The Diary

Equal pray for women

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

The classical Greek comedy Lysistrata is about women starting a sex strike to stop their husbands going to war. But could the idea be taken up here? A participant at Sunday's Harrow Limmud, who complained of restricted opportunities for women in Orthodox synagogues, put forward the view that if men wanted women to share their beds, they ought to share the pulpit, too.

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High five for human rights

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Last week we reported that four of the nine members of the new Commission on a Bill of Rights for Britain were Jewish.

Make that five. We mistakenly did not include the chairman of the panel, retired civil servant and Watford Synagogue member Sir Leigh Lewis.

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Paxman's Gaza withdrawal

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

French author Bernard-Henri Levy out-jousted Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight this week. After BHL recalled how he had phoned his president Nicolas Sarkozy from the Libyan rebel city of Benghazi, he was asked by Paxman whether he had not thought similarly about intervention when Israel had "laid siege" to Gaza.

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A royal send-up at purim

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

After our revelation last week that Prince William was to break a glass in order to add some multi-faith flavour to his wedding next month, his grandmother seems to have caught the inter-religious bug, too.

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Daniel in the bloggers' den

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

Indignant bloggers have been quick to pounce on remarks made at the recent J Street conference in Washington by one of the doveish lobby group's co-founders, Daniel Levy (right).

In a filmed discussion, he said that if Israel could only survive by the sword - rejected by its neighbours because "they hate us for what we are" - then "Israel really ain't a very good idea".

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The chief will go to church

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

The newly elected president of the Reform movement, Rabbi Tony Bayfield, took an active part for the first time in the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday, reciting a prayer he wrote for the occasion about the contribution of women.

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Israel, the new Vienna

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

At least someone likes Israel on Channel 4. Historian Niall Ferguson in his series Civilisation: is the West History? compared Israel to historic Vienna, a "fortified city on the frontier of Western civilisation". In 2008, he observed, Israel created 9,591 patents, compared to Iran's 50.

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Menorah's light dimmed

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

I had hoped to bring you more about the race-winning exploits of Menorah the horse.

But, alas, the 3/1 shot in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday could only muster a poor fifth.

Given the time of year, perhaps they should have renamed him Megillah.

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Spare our meat, Mr Wilders

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

Holland's Party for Freedom, led by the combative Geert Wilders, is among those backing a new bill which would effectively end shechitah there through compulsory stunning. Mr Wilders was once barred from Britain because of his views on Muslims - he has called for a ban on the Koran - although he was allowed in last year.

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The happiest man in America

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

If you want to be happy, take a cue from Alvin Wong of Hawaii.

According to a formula used by Gallup to measure wellbeing, the paragon of contentment would be a tallish Asian-American Jew who was in his 60s, married with children, living in Hawaii and earning more than £80,000 year.

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