Simon Round

Why we can all still be happy this New Year

By Simon Round, September 26, 2008

I've always had this problem with Rosh Hashanah. From what I can gather, everyone else celebrates New Year with a big party. Ours seems to be the only culture where everyone stays sober and gets all reflective. Honey and apple and shofar blowing are all very well but a few fireworks wouldn't go amiss either.

More..

Israel sells snow to Swiss

By Simon Round, September 19, 2008

A few years ago there was a legendary story about the British company which was selling sand to the Arabs. Now, here is one to top it: Israelis are selling snow to the Swiss.

An Israeli company has flogged the IDE Snowmaker to Switzerland. It will be deployed in the Swiss town of Zermatt from next month. Israeli snow comes at a higher cost than the natural stuff - the machine costs over £1 million.

More..

David Irving: The movie

By Simon Round, September 19, 2008

We hear that the book written by academic Deborah Lipstadt, History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving, about her legal battle with the Holocaust denying historian, has now been optioned by a film company.

Which prompts the question: who will play Irving in the movie? We reckon that Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jack Nicholson could be among the front-runners. Or how about John Cleese in the lead role?

More..

Jewish news copies its copy

By Simon Round, September 19, 2008

In last week's Jewish News, the "Dear Rabbi" column answered the query of a lady who was told by a clairvoyant that she was going to make a fortune.

The rabbi replied: "Wow. You were told by a top clairvoyant!... definitely not a load of rip-off mumbo-jumbo cooked up by some fruit-loop con-artist..."

Coincidentally, AOL's agony uncle answered a similar query on August 29.

More..

Footballer outed as pianist

By Simon Round, September 19, 2008

A lot of Premiership footballers have problems adjusting at the end of their careers. Some go into coaching, some become pundits, others buy a pub.

However, Israeli player Elisha Abas has made a more unusual career choice. After a long career in the Israeli top league, he has become a concert pianist.

Abas was actually a child prodigy at piano until the age of 15, when he became a victim of burnout. Three years later, he made his debut in his new career as a footballer.

More..

My school-dinner memories, coming back up

By Simon Round, September 19, 2008

If there is a phrase guaranteed to make me cringe more than just about any other, it's "school dinners" - well, that and "Premiership champions Manchester United".

School dinners were what I hated most about school. When Jamie Oliver started his campaign to rid our educational institutions of unhealthy muck I was right behind him, but when I looked at the menus that he was attempting to change I did have a little twinge.

More..

I’m Jewish? I’ll be a rabbi, then

By Simon Round, September 19, 2008

The Choice

Radio 4, Tuesday, September 16

More..

Celebrity lawyer tells of her pain as ‘poison’ allegation is dropped

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Leading media divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt has spoken of her shock at being arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and her relief after being told she will not be charged with any offence.

Ms Lloyd Platt - who appears regularly on GMTV and Channel 4 and has acted for celebrities including Les Dennis and Anne Diamond - said she had been arrested by the police "under circumstances that were a complete mystery."

More..

Interview: Annabel Karmel

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Her recipes and supermarket food have earned her global fame, but negative media coverage still hurts


Annabel Karmel may be the country's best-known and top-selling author on children and family food but when people attack her work, it hurts. Although she is a fixture on the best-seller lists, she has been sneered at by interviewers from more than one newspaper.

Sitting over a dish of sea bream in an Italian restaurant in London, she says she cannot understand the criticisms.

More..

13-year-old pooch gets a bark mitzvah

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008
What do you do for the dog who has everything? Well, if he is 13 years old you give him a bark mitzvah. New Yorker David Best spent $10,000 on his a bash for his pooch, Elvis. He must be barking.

More..

Israel’s Ikea in the frame

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Furniture in Israeli branches of Ikea cost more than the ubiquitous flatpacks in any country in Europe, according to a new survey. Prices at the store's Israeli outlets are about 30 per cent higher than in Britain and the Netherlands and 24 per cent higher than in France and Sweden.

And then you have to build it yourself.

More..

Rabbi's courting controversy

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

One of Israel's leading rabbis has, er, somewhat unexpected views on dating.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the spiritual leaders of the religious Zionism movement, held forth on the subject following Israeli discussion show Srugim. One of the show's guests argued that multi-dating was allowed under Jewish law.

Aviner said that multi-dating was forbidden... unless the woman was old and the man took too much time making a decision.

We wonder how long is too long - and how old is old?

More..

Who is Muhammad Cohen?

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Here is a contender for the world's craziest name. It's Muhammad Cohen.

You may not be surprised to hear that film director Cohen was born Eliot. However, he changed his name following his marriage to an Indonesian Muslim woman in 2002. It was, he said to demonstrate the similarity of the Muslim and Jewish religions.

Cohen said he was welcomed by the Muslim community. When he decided to marry, the only worry of the officiating Imam was that he be circumcised. Cohen was able to re-assure him on that count.

More..

Flag day at the BBC

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Is the BBC as objective and unbiased in its news coverage as it maintains? According to a source at the BBC, the Middle East Section of its online news service is run by two journalists - one with a Lebanese flag on his desk, the other with a Syrian flag adorning his workstation.

It is an interesting interpretation of "balanced".

More..

The Middle-East war, at a stadium near you

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

The world is changing frighteningly fast. House prices go up and then down again, petrol prices go up and then even further up, and all the time the glaciers and rain forests are disappearing. Through all this uncertainty, I have always taken comfort in one solid, unchanging fact. The team I support, Chelsea, are the world's richest football club and have more spending power than then most medium-sized nation states.

More..

Big up the Hendon massive

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Songs of Praise
BBC1, Sunday September 7

I, along with perhaps around 80 per cent of the population of Great Britain, have never sat through an entire edition of Songs of Praise, despite the fact that it has been showing ever since I was old enough to be depressed on a Sunday evening.

More..

So that’s Esther’s life, then

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC1, Wednesday September 3
God on Trial


BBC2, Wednesday September 3

 

More..

Palestinians' bad timing

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

The time is a- changing in the Gaza Strip, though not in the West Bank. Such is the level of feuding between the Hamas administration in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that they cannot even agree on what time it should be.

Gaza Mean Time, or GMT, went back to Daylight Saving last Friday, whereas the Palestinian Authority put its clocks back on Sunday with the onset of Ramadan.

More..

Swamped with immigrants? If we’re lucky

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

Immigration is a bit like the dark - people tend to be scared of it despite the fact that it is unlikely to do them any harm. There is now only a small minority of people who do not think that our society has been enriched over the past 50 years by the huge cultural wealth brought to this country by successive waves of immigration. However, whenever cyclical immigration picks up, there is a wail of hysteria within the pages of certain tabloids which is pounced upon by a section of the public too stupid to buy a better paper.

More..

Interview: Ruby Wax

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

Ruby Wax is the queen of rapid-fire comedy. But, as she tells Simon Round, humour hasn't healed the legacy of depression left by her Shoah-survivor parents - and so she trained as a psychotherapist

 

You do not need to research Ruby Wax particularly deeply to know she had a problem childhood. Over the years, her comedy has been peppered with lines about the strange upbringing by her eccentric and neurotic parents.

More..