Simon Round

The His and Hers guide to the species

By Simon Round, July 25, 2008
When I was a child in the 1970s the established wisdom was that girls and boys may have looked different on the outside but were exactly the same inside their heads.

Put a boy in pink and give him a Barbie and he would most likely end up playing with dolls' houses and applying mascara. Dress a girl in blue and give her an Action Man figure and she would end up demanding Panini football stickers for her birthday.

More..

Theo’s car quip backfires

By Simon Round, July 25, 2008

Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis is in hot water with viewers over a remark made on Sunday’s edition of Top Gear on BBC1.

The corporation has  received several complaints over Paphitis’s remark that fellow Dragon Peter Jones’s beige-coloured car was “Jewish racing gold”.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: “The phrase ‘Jewish racing gold’ is known to us as a colloquial reference to a type of colour for a car; a phrase that has unfortunately leaked into mainstream usage.

More..

Party leaders’ lunch date

By Simon Round, July 25, 2008

It is not often that you get Gordon Brown and David Cameron to agree on anything, but both felt they wanted to mark an important milestone for the Jewish community. In 1858, Lionel de Rothschild became the first Jewish MP, and 150 years later representatives of all the main parties attended a lunch last Thursday at the House of Lords to mark the anniversary.

More..

No kosher chinese in Beijing

By Simon Round, July 25, 2008
It's not just the Tibetans who have issues with the upcoming Beijing Olympics - so do the Jews in the Chinese capital, who are finding it harder and harder to purchase kosher food in the run-up to the games.

Due to severe restrictions imposed in advance of the Olympics next month, shipments of kosher produce have been delayed, while individuals attempting to bring in supplies risk having their food confiscated. A Beijing rabbi says: "There is a severe shortage of kosher food due to the new restrictions which are expected to last until the games are over."

More..

Daniel Levy v Sir Alex Ferguson

By Simon Round, July 25, 2008

Tottenham Hotspur's Jewish chairman Daniel Levy is broiges with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over his pursuit of Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Sir Alex has been attempting to lure Berbatov him to Old Trafford. An enraged Levy has retorted by calling the United boss "arrogant and hypocritical". Sir Alex is considering taking legal actions over the remark.
Levy is clearly in broiges mode this week. He has also reported Liverpool to the Premier League over their approach for striker Robbie Keane.

More..

The only Jews who stay silent

By Simon Round, July 25, 2008

The Jewish Connection

Radio 4 Wednesday, July 23

Comedy Connections: Yes Minister

BBC1, Friday, July 25

It is exactly 150 years since the first Jew took his seat in Parliament. To mark the fact, historian Ruth Cowen guided us through a century-and-a-half of Jewish representation, during which time more than 200 Jews have become MPs.

More..

Hand over the money and I’ll do it for free

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

People don’t seem to be voting as much as they used to. Apparently, in today’s busy world there are too many rival attractions, the implication being that in days gone by voters were glad of a visit to the polling booth just to break the monotony of putting wet clothes through the mangle and spreading dripping on their toast.

It seems ironic to me that while in many countries around the world people are fighting and dying for the right to vote, we in this country can’t be bothered unless there’s the chance to win a Ford Focus or a holiday in Barbados.

More..

New kind of wedding card

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Time was when you would have to think ahead when buying a wedding present — ie leafing through the John Lewis list for items within your price range.

Well, thanks to enterprising Israelis, from now on you will  not need to buy a gift until you arrive at the venue.

If you are attending a simchah at the Gan Oranim hall in Tel Aviv, you will be able to insert your credit-card into a machine, tap in a sum and leave a gift for the bride and groom.

More..

I’m modest, so fly me

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

There are plenty of things to consider when booking an airline ticket. What is the best price? Does it fly direct to your destination? What is the food like?

And then there is: how does you airline rank for modesty? The Rabbinical Transportation Committee in Israel has ranked international carriers on modesty, particularly in the films they offer.

Flights that score best are those which screen no films. Those offering films on personal screens also score well, although the rabbis advise  a personal “foldable curtain”.

More..

Disharmony at Bnei Akiva

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Religious youth movement Bnei Akiva has walked into a row with irate parents… because it is getting too frum. BA has decided to segregate its annual singing competition at Givat Shmuel, near Tel Aviv, which has always been mixed, prompting irate parents to send hundreds of letters of complaint.

Senior rabbi David Bigman said Jewish law did not forbid listening to a woman singing, “as long as the song is not intended for sexual provocation”. Sexual provocation? Surely not at a BA singing competition?

More..

Jews vote for voting

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Whether or not you vote may well depend on your religious orientation, according to a study published in Social Science Quarterly.

The survey of 1,712 adults concluded that people who see God as being directly involved in world affairs — for example, evangelical Protestants — were less likely to vote. However, Jews who see God as a little more laissez-faire tended to go to the polls more regularly.

The Labour Party may hope Christians are nearer the mark, because if current opinion polls are correct, it looks as if only God can save Gordon Brown now.

More..

I was lost in the Amazon jungle

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Israeli Yossi Ghinsberg nearly died in the Bolivian rainforest. He tells us of his miraculous survival


Yossi Ghinsberg is sitting in the bar of a hotel in Central London, sipping a glass of red wine and picking at a bowl of crisps. Simple enough pleasures, but Ghinsberg feels he will never again take them for granted. For he is one of a rare group — those who have been lost in the Amazon rainforest and lived to tell the tale.

More..

The final insult from Lithuania

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Crossing Continents

Radio 4, Thursday, July 17

A Match Made in heaven

ITV1, Sunday, July 13

A Lithuanian commission is currently investigating war crimes. A good idea you might think. After all, Lithuanian civilians are widely thought to have cheerfully joined in with the Nazi death squads which all but eliminated the hundreds of thousands of Jews who once inhabited the country.

More..

UJIA’s dinner dilemma

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008
Word reaches us of a terrible dilemma confronting UJIA. It’s being strongly rumoured that Gordon Brown has been pencilled in as the main speaker for their autumn fundraising dinner. Which, under other political circumstances, would be lovely — except that Mr Brown’s prospects are not currently looking too rosy. So we hear that there has been some concern within the organisation — the word “panic” has been used — about whether they should think again, just in case he is not the PM at that point. A spokeswoman promises to get back to us, but somehow never does. Very politic.

More..

I went on TV to find love

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

Dan Shell agreed to let an ITV camera crew follow his attempts at internet dating. Any regrets?


Finding true love can be a tricky and unpredictable journey. It is a process that most people like to conduct with a degree of privacy. However, 38-year-old Dan Shell has decided to allow the television-viewing public to follow his romantic progress.

More..

The way we deal with rubbish is, er, rubbish

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

It’s going to be a rubbish column this week. This isn’t to say that the quality of the writing won’t be every bit as effervescent (or not) as usual, just that the subject is, well, rubbish.

Why am I writing about rubbish? The fact is there is a lot of it about these days. We are creating more rubbish than ever before which means that local authorities are struggling to do everything within their power to dispose of the mountains of waste as efficiently as possible.

More..

Mind your language, Eli

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

There are signs that the Israeli government might not be treating the process of welcoming and integrating immigrants with a great deal of importance.

Why? Well, the newly appointed absorption minister, Eli Affalo, does not speak a word of English. That may prove significant when one’s job entails a large number of conversations with English-speakers.

A source close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended the decision, saying: “Speaking English is not part of the criteria.”

More..

Williams: Heavens can wait

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he will not be taking to the heavens in an aeroplane — with one exception.

Rowan Williams told Green Futures magazine that he intends to keep his feet firmly on the ground in an attempt to leave as small an ecclesiastical carbon footprint as possible. He is, however, making one exception. “The only fixed flight this year is a trip to Auschwitz. After that I’m looking at travelling by train in Europe.”

More..

A novel correction

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008
Two weeks ago, we reported a correction from the Daily Mail apologising for falsely suggesting that David Gest had contracted a sexually transmitted disease and had Liza Minnelli’s dog killed. Here is another beauty from The Guardian concerning a book by The Times’s Jewish editor, James Harding. “James Harding’s book, Alpha Dogs, is not a searing, gripping novel as we said in a diary item. It is a work of non-fiction about a firm of US political strategists.”

More..

Can faiths agree on punishment?

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

Beyond Belief

Radio 4, Monday, July 7

Sunday Life

BBC1, Sunday, July 6

In a sense, Beyond Belief is what we pay our licence fee for. Who but a publicly funded broadcaster would invite thinkers from Islam, Christianity and Judaism to sit in a radio studio and chat for half an hour about what their faith says about punishment?

More..