Simon Round

Wedding music with a difference

By Simon Round, January 14, 2009

A Jewish couple celebrating their wedding in New York experienced an unexpected soundtrack. Waiter Stephen Buttafuoco played a recording of Arab demonstrators shouting “God is great” over the PA system.

It could be an expensive gesture — he has been charged with harrassment.

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Kanoute gets shirty

By Simon Round, January 14, 2009

Former Spurs and West Ham footballer Frederic Kanoute is in trouble for his overly political goal celebration.

After scoring for his club, Sevilla, in the Spanish Primera Liga last weekend, Kanoute lifted his shirt over his head to reveal a T-shirt with the word Palestine written in various languages.

Kanoute’s protest cost him a yellow card and he faces a fine from the Spanish FA.

Clearly, there are no longer split loyalties for Kanoute. As Tottenham fans will be aware, despite being a practising Muslim, Kanoute also used to be a “Yid”.

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Writing on the wall for kosher eateries?

By Simon Round, January 14, 2009

One of the scariest statistics for restaurateurs over the past few weeks must have been the rise in the sales of televisions. People hit by the recession are planning to stay in a lot more in 2009, and are sorting out their domestic entertainment accordingly. When finances are tight, people start to cut back on going out - and that includes visiting restaurants. So is the kosher dining industry, which has always struggled with high costs and consequently higher prices, about to feel the chill of the economic downturn?

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Interview: Mandy Patinkin

By Simon Round, January 14, 2009

If you spend a little time talking to Mandy Patinkin it becomes apparent exactly why his career has been so wide-ranging and eclectic — from films to television; Shakespeare to musicals, straight acting to albums of Yiddish songs.

He quite obviously does not like to be contained in one area. Having agreed to an interview to promote Mandy Patinkin: In Concert, his one man show at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End, he proceeds to spend much of the time pleading for an end to the conflict in Gaza.

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Griffin: Jews are OK

By Simon Round, January 8, 2009

British National Party leader Nick Griffin has been on a charm offensive to explain how non-racist and reasonable are his party’s policies. He even took time out to chat to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.

Griffin told the paper that he “has no time for antisemites”.

Indeed, to emphasise the point he added: “Four million Jews would be preferable to four million Pakistanis.” Charming.

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And now the good news — no, really

By Simon Round, January 8, 2009

Amid all the doom and gloom about recession, Gaza and the weather, at last some good news. A record number of people used our Social & Personal columns (P25-27) to announce engagements and births this week. Thirty seven couples decided to tie the knot while 36 babies were born. What was going on in April?

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We're from Turkmenistan!

By Simon Round, January 8, 2009

This letter, which was actually published by the South Wales Echo, sheds new light on both the conflict in Gaza and the origins of the Jewish people.

Peter Sunman of Cardiff asserts that “these Israelis [who attacked Gaza] are not Jews but are Ashkenazim which means that they adopted the Jewish faith as a matter of convenience.

“They are not born of a Jewish mother so cannot be Jews.”

He adds: “Since they [the Ashkenazim] are from Turkmenistan originally, how does the land of Palestine become their home?”

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Interview: Liev Schreiber

By Simon Round, January 8, 2009

Liev Schreiber is not an obvious choice to play a tough, violent partisan. Unlike Daniel Craig, his co-star in the film Defiance — which is released today — Schreiber does not have a hard-man image. In fact, his upbringing was about as far from tough as it gets. He was raised as a vegetarian in a series of hippie communes by his liberal, free-thinking papier-mâché puppet-making mother. When he left home, he graduated in drama at Yale and became one of America’s leading Shakespearean actors. Streetfighter he ain’t.

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Abba and me, by Mrs Eban

By Simon Round, January 8, 2009

By dint of marrying one of the 20th century’s most celebrated statesmen, Suzy Eban witnessed the great events of Israel’s birth, and its subsequent struggle for survival, at close quarters.

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Chanucah stress gets to Ronson

By Simon Round, December 30, 2008

Samantha Ronson, the DJ sister of record producer Mark Ronson and girlfriend of actress Lindsay Lohan, was briefly admitted to hospital last week... and blamed the stress of Chanucah for her ailment.

Ronson said her schedule left no time to buy Chanucah presents and that this led to a minor breakdown. She explained on her MySpace page: “Happy Chanucah! Thanks for all your messages. I’m home and all good.

“I was just pretty exhausted from travelling and working too much to buy Chanucah gifts and my Jewish mother was worried about me.”

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Skullcap and crossbones

By Simon Round, December 30, 2008

If anyone thought that the Jews were a nation of landlubbers, a new book sheds some interesting new light on what used to pass for a job for a nice Jewish boy.

According to Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler, there were a number of Jews flying the Jolly Roger on the high seas in the years following the Spanish Inquisition.

One, a man named Samuel Palache, was a “pirate rabbi” who sent a flotilla of privateers to operate against Spanish shipping. Then at weekends he returned to his congregation — as minister of Holland’s first synagogue.

Oy vey, Jim lad!

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Naked before the law

By Simon Round, December 30, 2008

An Israeli man found himself briefly behind bars after a card game went terribly wrong.

The Ashdod man, in his 20s, lost the game and a bet, according to which the loser had to run naked through the streets of the town, take a swim in the sea and run back again.

He was intercepted by surprised police officers while completing his mission at midnight.

After being arrested on charges of public nudity, the man made an unusual request to officer Levin Constantine. “I ask you to allow me to return to my friends naked.”

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Wanted: lessons in discipline

By Simon Round, December 30, 2008

A lot of people seemed surprised this week at a report claiming that male teachers had more problems with rowdy schoolchildren than their female counterparts.

Take it from someone who once went to school: this is no surprise.

Ok, so maybe JFS in the mid-70s wasn’t a genuine inner-city sink comprehensive, but there were still more than a couple of pupils who would today be described as “challenging” and were in those days labelled “psychos”.

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Interview: Deborah Moggach

By Simon Round, December 30, 2008

When novelist and screenwriter Deborah Moggach was approached to adapt Anne Frank’s diary for a BBC drama series, she was daunted by the idea.

The diary — written before and during the two years that Frank and her family were in hiding from the Nazis in a house in Amsterdam — has already been adapted and performed a number of times on stage and on screen, so Moggach realised she had to come up with something fresh. And she had the difficult job of extrapolating conversations from the text which might well never have happened.

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There’s Chanucah bingeing, then there’s 46-latke Pete

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

The beginning of Chanucah on Sunday has prompted the start of the do-something-silly-with-latkes season, with eating contests, an attempt to fry the country’s largest potato pancake and even a bid to cook a latke in a solar powered oven.

In New Jersey, a 6ft 2in Canadian bodybuilder, “Furious” Pete Czerwinski, blitzed allcomers to win the National Potato Latke Eating Championships.

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The evidence is complete pants

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

An Israeli woman has come up with a slightly unusual way of proving that her husband cheated on her.

The woman, in her 50s, took a pair of her husband’s underpants to a lab in a bid to prove that an affair was taking place.

Without going too closely into the rather icky details, the lab was able to confirm that certain, er, secretions, proved that someone had gained access to the aforementioned Y-fronts and that the DNA of the sample did not belong to either the wife or the husband.

The evidence was then supplied to the Rabbinical court as proof that adultery had taken place.

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Emily’s chief rabbi gaffe

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

Newsreader Emily Maitlis revealed to The Spectator that her low point of the year was when she inadvertently accused Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks of leaving lewd messages on people’s answering machines.

While presenting BBC News 24 she managed to mix up the names of Andrew Sachs and Jonathan Ross — to make Jonathan Sacks.

Maitlis said: “I haven’t heard from the Chief Rabbi and Yom Kippur is a long way off but I should probably put that on the atoning list.”

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Happy birthday, Adolf

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

A cake shop in New Jersey has become embroiled in an argument after it refused to personalise a birthday cake with a toddler’s name.

The boy’s family, the Campbells, are up in arms — they cannot understand why the shop has refused to inscribe little Adolf Hitler Campbell’s name on the cake.

Said Adolf’s mother: “ShopRite can’t even make a cake for a three-year-old. That’s sad.”

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Be more Jewish, do Christmas

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

A lot of Jews do Christmas. A great percentage of them feel slightly guilty about it — and a small proportion of the ones who don’t observe the festival feel that they are missing out on something, particularly when they see the M&S ads and watch Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen.

However, practically all of us mark New Year’s Eve in some way — either by sharing a drink with friends, going out for a meal or drinking 10 pints of a vodka-based punch and sleeping under somebody’s car in a street in Hainault (although to be fair, 1992 was not a typical year).

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US pick Jesus for Ryder Cup

By Simon Round, December 19, 2008

Given the number of Jews who enjoy golf, you wonder why there are none at the top levels of the game — except of course for the newly appointed US Ryder Cup captain, Corey Pavin.

Actually, Pavin counts as a near miss. He was born Jewish but at the vital moment, he lost his concentration and converted to evangelical Christianity (the spiritual equivalent of the yips). Mark Reason speculated in the Daily Telegraph that his background might have played a part in the appointment: “Is it possible that the PGA saw a Jesus syndrome in Pavin, a convert from Judaism to Christianity?”

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