The Diary

Multifaith Chief Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, September 7, 2010

The Chief Rabbi is a man of many parts, apparently more than most of us know.

The Times reported that leading the attack on Stephen Hawking's claim that God did not create the universe was "the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, and one of Britain's most senior imams."

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Parshapp of the week

By Simon Rocker, September 7, 2010

Liberal Judaism's youth movement, Kadimah, had no Sefer Torah for their Shabbat service on their recent summer camp.

But no problem for visiting Rabbi Pete Tobias, who simply whipped out his mobile. "I have a Torah app," he explained, "so in what may be a first in Jewish history, I gave a Torah reading from my iPhone."

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Blair bonus for board

By Simon Rocker, September 7, 2010

The words "crowd-puller" and "Board of Deputies" do not normally go hand in hand. But last week's Institute of Jewish Studies' conference on the Board's 250th anniversary proved such an attraction that some people had to sit in the aisles. One grateful guest even handed Board treasurer Laurence Brass a £500 cheque.

He will be hoping for similar largesse at the Board's 250th celebration dinner in November – whose guest of honour I can reveal will be Tony Blair.

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One-legged shul stand

By Simon Rocker, September 7, 2010

Long John Silver would have been proud. Clive Lawton had promised to lead the Musaph service at Muswell Hill United Synagogue last Shabbat for a barmitzvah.

But then he suffered a mishap - he broke his left ankle. Undeterred, the long-haired Limmud leader was wheelchaired to shul by a non-Jewish security guard and, hopping up to the bimah, delivered the service on one leg and a pair of crutches. All that was missing was the eye-patch and parrot.

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Donovan's Jewish journey

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2010

If there were a Hall of Jewish Pop Fame, Jason Donovan could now claim a plinth.

The BBC's celebrity genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? has thrown up a few Jewish stories but the former Neighbours star's story is an unusual one.

His great-grandma down the maternal line was Eileen Lyons, a promising singer described as a "sweet-faced little Jewess" in the Australian press of her day.

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Hackers who lost their way

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2010

Belvoir Castle, the Duke of Rutland's pad in Leicestershire, is the setting for an annual teddy bears' picnic in its stately grounds.

But visitors to its website the other day would have been bemused to find images of the castle replaced by the Algerian flag and a message in Arabic denouncing Israel.

The geographically challenged Algerians who perpetrated the hack had confused this slice of aristocratic England with Belvoir Fortress, a former Crusader garrison 2,000 miles away in Israel.

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Eggsellent news in Uganda

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2010

You may recall our recent report on the Putti Jews of Uganda and Ros Eisen, the London woman aiding them. Happily, the egg-farming venture she set up has taken off. "We started with 50 chickens, three weeks later we are up to 500," Ros said. "They've had to convert an empty building planned as a library into an additional henhouse."

After seven months their laying days will be over and a date with the soup pot beckoning.

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Will Katie get X-Factor axe?

By Simon Rocker, August 26, 2010

After all the excitement over Stacey Solomon last year, is there anyone with the J-factor this year?

Step up Katie Waissel (left) from Hertfordshire, who made her mark at last week's X Factor audition by forgetting the lines to Queen's We Are the Champions and successfully persuading the judges to let her do another song instead.

But the participation of the part-time receptionist - who went under the name Katie Vogel aka Katie V when we spoke to her about her singing ambitions a few months ago - may
be short-lived.

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Into the breach

By Simon Rocker, August 26, 2010

Former chairman of the Union of Jewish Students Daniel Sacker has left top PR firm Weber Shandwick and is rumoured to be on his way to the JNF.

Yet to be revealed is what role the Young Jewish Political Network member will play at the charity, which lately parted company with its new chief executive after just six months.

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The BBC plays fair by Israel

By Simon Rocker, August 26, 2010

What's come over the BBC? After last week's Panorama on the Gaza flotilla incident - which drew plaudits from the Zionist Federation and had the Palestine Solidarity Campaign fuming - came an item on Radio Four's Today this week about a Norwegian fund blacklisting two Israeli companies.

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