The Diary

Not arf a way to mark Jubilee

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2012

One of the most spectacular events to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will be a pageant on the Thames in June involving a thousand boats.

Among those chosen to join the festive flotilla is a 42-foot motor cruiser called Knot Arf.

It used to have a Hebrew name, Hamayim 2, before current owner Andrew Bernstein, vice-president of Thames Motor Yacht Club, acquired it.

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Dawkins loses title challenge

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2012

Listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday may have been left open-mouthed as the Reverend Giles Fraser, former Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, wiped the floor with devout secularist Richard Dawkins.

The pair clashed over a poll commissioned by Professor Dawkins designed to show that since most Britons had not read the Bible thoroughly in the last year or that they were unaware of deta

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Huhne off the bike trail

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2012

Ed Davey will fulfil his first Jewish engagement as Energy Secretary next month if he attends a Board of Deputies event to mark the Big Green Jewish Year of the Bike.

His predecessor Chris Huhne had been lined up to appear, until ministerially he came off the road, resigning over an alleged speeding offence.

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Capello' s parting gift

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2012

New North London Synagogue has reason to be grateful to Fabio Capello, whose resignation as English manager can only have helped ticket sales for an event it is holding on Sunday. Colin Shindler of Manchester United Ruined My Life fame will be interviewing none other than FA chairman (and Capello's former boss) David Bernstein.

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Berachah that packs a punch

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2012

British heavyweight Dereck Chisora gets a blessing from Rabbi Mordechai Nissim of Hendon ahead of his world title fight against Vitali Klitschko at the weekend. Chisora is a regular at the White House Express restaurant in Golders Green; Rabbi Nissim's grandfather, I'm told, used to box in India.

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Shmuley B in da house?

By Simon Rocker, February 9, 2012

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wants to run as a Republican for Congress. The talk show host intends to pitch for the party's nomination for a New Jersey district. If he were chosen to stand and then elected in November, he would, he believes, be the first rabbi in the house.

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Muzzle Tov: a dog's life

By Simon Rocker, February 9, 2012

You recall last week I lauded Muzzle Tov, the greyhound who won his race after Shabbat. He was back in action last Saturday, when he should have been taking kiddush in his kennel, and this time he managed only fifth. Mind you, the Torah talks about resting your cattle, not your dog.

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What Jackie said competition

By Simon Rocker, February 9, 2012

The lucky winner of our caption contest - and recipient of two tickets to see Jackie Mason in London this month - is Estelle Ries of Radlett.

In her entry, the comedian tells Mikhail Gorbachev in the above photo: "If I give you my autograph, everyone will want one!"

And here are Jackie Mason's own suggestions. To Gorbachev, he says; "Have you ever thought about converting?

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Kate's chasidic dress sense

By Simon Rocker, February 9, 2012

Don't be surprised if the Duchess of Cambridge were to go shopping in Stamford Hill because one of her favourite coats was inspired by a kapote.

Katherine Hooker, designer of the London Contrast coat, told New York magazine that it was based on "a young boy's Chasidic coat" that she once bought in a junk shop in Israel during a visit as a teenager.

It was "black silk with a little collar, cu

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No ears for Mr Livingstone

By Simon Rocker, February 9, 2012

Rabbi Alan Plancey, emeritus United Synagogue minister and a Conservative councillor, experienced chilly feet this week, not because of the snow but the idea of going to a charity dinner for Orthodox school Side by Side, whose guest is Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone.

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