The Diary

BB's Ben on his bum

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

The last ever Big Brother boasts the last ever Jewish contestant.

Thirty-year-old Ben Duncan is a journalist obsessed with the Middle East who yearns to be an Arab. Asked by a housemate what the word tuches meant, he replied, "it's Latin for bum".

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Reform's early kick off

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The English soccer team may be cloven-hooved, but at least Reform leaders showed nimble feet. With the movement's annual meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon, right in the middle of England's World Cup game against Germany, they hastily brought forward the meeting, slashed the agenda and gave strict orders to end well before the start of the match.

After the English performance, many of those who dashed home to watch must have wondered whether it was worth the effort. But movement head Rabbi Tony Bayfield can draw some consolation: at least a West Ham player scored.

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Bad call for shul visitors

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Bar- and bat-mitzvahs may bring lots of people to shul but visitors still appear to struggle with Shabbat etiquette.

Security staff at one United Synagogue confiscated a staggering 45 mobile phones and two cameras at the door on a recent Saturday morning.

In another instance, the warden of a synagogue was asked by a visitor if his shul had Wi-Fi. But the biscuit must be taken by the man who managed to smuggle his mobile in to the service and was caught texting for a takeaway.

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Champion envoy

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

After her car was set upon by protesters during a visit to Manchester University, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador, Talya Lador-Fresher, may be glad her tour of duty is coming to an end here. But she can content herself with a job well done: Israel’s Foreign Ministry has just voted her its employee of the year for 2009.

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Game on at Chanucah

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Here's how to while away those midwinter nights later in the year: a new board game for those who devour doughnuts and latkes rather than mince pies.

Maccabees pits Judah and his band of brothers against the evil Seleucids as they try to gather enough oil to relight the menorah.

The Chanucah game is being previewed next Tuesday at the "Christmas in July" exhibition in London's Camden Centre.

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Niche service

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

When my colleague Nick Herman asked Amazon to deliver an order to the JC, the online company gave him the following tracking number: YID54857.

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Vanessa’s shrinking feeling

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Vanessa Feltz hopes finally to have beaten those unwanted pounds. The radio hostess revealed this week that, after various failed diets, she has already shed 16lb from more than 16 stone, thanks to her new gastric band. The device that she believes can convert her into a “model of abstinence” was fitted by a Dr Focquet of Zottegem in Belgium.

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Stacey, the embassy pin-up

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Stacey Solomon has a fan at the Israeli Embassy: press attache Amir Ofek has been sporting photos of the Dagenham diva as a screensaver on his computer.

The X Factor finalist is due to sing at the Zionist Federation's late Israel Independence Day concert in London on Sunday - delayed because the volcanic ash crowd prevented the travel of Israeli guests in April, notably headline act Achinoam Nini, aka Noa.

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Keegan and the evil eye

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

Was TV soccer pundit skipper Kevin Keegan wearing a chamsa(a hand-shaped amulet to foil the evil eye) during the England v Algeria game? Our resident charm squad is pursuing inquiries with a so far coy ITV.

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Play it again, Shlomo

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2010

South Hampstead’s African-born Rabbi Shlomo Levin apparently offered to blow a vuvuzela for a shofar at Rosh Hashanah if South Africa or England won the World Cup. What greater motivation could England want?

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