The Diary

No show Oborne

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

One man unable to make Limmud was journalist Peter Oborne, presenter of Channel 4’s recent attempted expose of the Israel lobby in Britain. He was invited to speak at the conference. but was too busy on assignment in Zimbabwe to complete his application form in time.

Or was the Israel lobby secretly out there on safari?

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Limmud table talk

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

Lots of feelgood fraternising at the Limmud conference where United Synagogue Rabbis Michael Rosenfeld and Natan Levy breakfasted with Liberal Rabbi Danny Rich, and Jewish Leadership Council chief exec Jeremy Newmark and his team courted the grassroots at the bar till 2am.

“Who says we are remote?” tweeted the still sober JLC head.

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Lock up your dummies

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

On Edgware K, an email forum where kosher folk advertise barmitzvah lessons or announce the latest addition to their brood, the following message was posted: “Seeking a pregnant mannekin”.

Is some new golem on the loose in Middlesex? Or could there be any link to another message on the forum seeking loan of a “maternity wedding gown”?

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Yiddish test for Yentob

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2009

Alan Yentob’s TV foray into Scrabble last week saw him take on the word game’s top woman player in a test to pick out genuine words from a list. “Kittel,” he was heard murmuring, “I’d rather like that to be a word”.

Kittel indeed is one: the white robe worn on High Holy Days by some Ashkenazim, which might explain its unfamiliarity to the Sephardi Yentob.

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Nude bikers' cold reception

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

Riding bicycles may be ecologically sound but not in New York’s strictly Orthodox enclave of Williamsburg.

Chasidic residents successfully lobbied for the removal of a bike lane, citing parking problems and reportedly the invasion of scantily-clad riders.

In response, two-wheeled objectors had planned a protest last Saturday with a topless ride through the area.

But providence, and the weather, intervened: the downturn in temperatures forced the stripped protesters to cover up.

Is there a prayer for frost?

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One over the eight in Essex

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

I hope you had yourselves a merry Chanucah. They certainly did at Buckhurst Hill Chabad House in Essex, with this whisky-filled menorah.

The 7ft lamp was made of pipes containing 65 litres of single malt donated by the Tullibardine Distillery in the Scottish Highlands.

A tap fitted to the stem of the menorah ensured that Rabbi Odom Brandman (pictured) and company could enjoy a regular flow of l’chaims.

Beats doughnuts any day.

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Mandy amid the latkes

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

Although Gordon Brown was off in Copenhagen trying to cool the planet, Lord Mandelson was on hand to dispense good cheer at last week’s Downing Street Chanucah party.

Premier latkas all round for those there to enjoy them. But while entertainment types such as Josh Howie and Vanessa Feltz were present, many a communal official was miffed at not being on the guest list.

Still, there’s always Purim.

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Guardian apologises

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

Hallelujah, an apology from the Guardian on Tuesday, which said it should not have put headline “Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs” on a story about the admission, from an ex-head of a forensic institute, that, in the 1990s, specialists took organs from the bodies of Israeli soldiers and citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers without permission from families. The headline “did not match the article”, the paper said.

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Inside story: bad-guy broiges

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2009

A striking trio of Jewish prisoners is currently doing time in the remote surroundings of the North Carolina Correctional Facility, USA. Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel, is far from keen on the company of his Jewish cellmate, a rapist and murderer. He does, though, have a regular lunch with the third Jew: Bernie Madoff. Lunch companions they may be, but the Diary has learned that Pollard is barely more enamoured with the stupendous swindler, whose lack of remorse irks Pollard. According to Our Man On The Inside, Pollard regards Madoff as lowlife.

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Free speech – Good Lord!

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2009

It Seems that the recently ennobled Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is beginning to find his feet in the House of Lords. But, as he explained to delegates at Sunday’s JNF conference in Hendon, acclimatising to the rarefied air of the upper chamber has not been an entirely straightforward process.

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