The Diary

Bird brainteaser

By Simon Rocker, October 11, 2011

They are the staple of our soups and our Shabbat tables, we eat them gedempte or sandwich them in shnitzels. Some of us may have even been swinging them round our heads last Friday in the pre-Yom Kippur kapparot ceremony.

But how many kosher chickens do you think are consumed by British Jews every year: is it 300,000: 1.3 million: or 2.3 million?

Answer next week.

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It's all Hebrew to them

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2011

Almost full marks to St Monica's, a Roman Catholic High School, in Prestwich, Manchester, which posted the Rosh Hashanah greeting below on their fence for their Jewish neighbours.

The words run in the right order from right to left. However, the school managed to get the letters of each word back to front. The message should read Shanah Tovah Um'vorechet, "A Good and Blessed Year".

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The Woody view of Bibi

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2011

One man who would not have given Benjamin Netanyahu a standing ovation in America earlier this year is Woody Allen.

The veteran film-maker, whose new movie Midnight in Paris is said to be his best in years, told the Sunday Times that Netanyahu was a "poor leader" and he wished Israel had a more enlightened government.

But he also hit out at the Arabs' "extremely destructive attitude" over ye

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More about Jewish beans

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2011

You may recall last week I wrote about a family amused to see a dish of haricot beans at their Spanish hotel labelled "Jewish with ham" – the literal translation of judias con jamon. Judia can mean both a Jewish woman and bean in Spanish.

Here is one explanation via the internet.

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In colourful company

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2011

Phillip Blond, the Anglican theologian whose ideas of progressive Conservatism have been dubbed "Red Tory", I hear is a regular Friday night guest at the home of Lord Glasman, adviser to Labour leader Ed Miliband and the exponent of so-called Blue Labour.

I don't know what to make of their Shabbat schmoozing but I'm sure the very thought will turn some people purple.

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Stacey, supermarket queen

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2011

When it comes to food, Stacey Solomon is game for anything, as she showed when she consumed all sorts of critters to win I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here last year.

Now she is back on TV, this time championing more conventional fare as the face of Iceland Foods' advertising campaign.

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Dawkins v the Chief

By Simon Rocker, September 27, 2011

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks will be going head to head with champion of atheism Richard Dawkins on Radio Four's Start the Week on October 17. Up for discussion will be the Chief Rabbi's new book The Great Partnership which makes the case for faith, and Dawkins's new book for children, which treats religion as myth.

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Cantab, you have one hour

By Simon Rocker, September 27, 2011

Cambridge University has extended the deadline to allow observant Jews to vote for its next Chancellor, because of Succot.

The election to find a successor to Prince Philip has been fixed for Friday October 13 - the second day of Succot - and the following Shabbat.

But according to university regulations, those eligible to vote (anyone with a Cambridge MA or higher degree) must do so in pers

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Spooks' view of mid-east

By Simon Rocker, September 27, 2011

You can always rely on BBC1's spy drama Spooks to spread a little healthy realism on current affairs. While the media has largely waxed optimistic about the Arab Spring, foreseeing the birth of a new era of freedom and democracy, our fictional MI5 heroes have opted for a rather more sober view and begun preparing for an Islamist takeover.

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When beans mean heimish

By Simon Rocker, September 27, 2011

Alison Arellano and her family were naturally taken aback to read this sign next to a dish on the hotel buffet when they holidayed recently in the Costa del Sol, which says "Jewish with ham".

Just in case you think this is something out of a cannibal cookbook, the Spanish judias con jamon refers innocently to haricot beans with ham.

Judia can mean both bean and Jewess.

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