Archive for April, 2012

Regular readers will know that Begin is one of my favourite historical figures. Here are just some of the things that fascinate me about him…

The ‘Haftorah’ read the week of his birth begins with the words: “Be comforted, be comforted, my people.”

He made his first speech standing on a picnic table in Poland. He was nine years of age.

He believed: “It is terribly important for an educated man, if he wants to know things, to read a minimum of 150 pages a day.”

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Mazal tov, Israel. Mazal tov, Israelis.

If a blog can make me laugh, I love it. If a blog has a snappy title and an original theme, I love it. If it can open my eyes about a topic I don’t know a lot about, I love it.

Ergo, I love my friend Charley’s blog, which is entitled Chaz The Spazz.

It is her hilarious and not-for-prude’s take on life in a wheelchair. From sex to answering the call of nature, it takes a witty and informative look at disability.

While making you laugh out loud she also informs you. It is, in both senses of the phrase, seriously funny. Go and have a look.

Someone wrote to me earlier to say that when I don’t post for a week she assumes I’ve died. I can report that, unless I’ve grossly misread the situation, I am alive and well.

I have been busy, though. We went to Longleat Safari Park the other day and had a wonderful time looking at the tigers, cheetahs and other animals. I’ve also been writing as I have a lot of work on.

Other than that I’ve been reading some superb books. The first is called Here Comes Everybody, and is written by James Fearnley of The Pogues. His beautifully written and vivid account of life in the band has gripped me. I’ve also been devouring Tom Bower’s much-discussed biography of Simon Cowell. I was chuffed to see a nice mention of my own biography of Simon Cowell in Bower’s acknowledgements.

Finally, I’ve been reading The Wisdom of Sikhism. I’d always had an instinctive feeling that Sikhism would be a fascinating religion. Everything I’ve read about it thus far has indeed fascinated me. I’ll probably write more seriously about it in the coming days, but in the meantime I must say that I smiled when I learned that the creator of the faith is called Guru Nanak, that he wrote Shabads and that his sister was called Bibi.

Finally for now, I wanted to mention a marvellous initiative to raise money for Holocaust charities that has been launched by three pupils at Yavneh College. Jessica Tray, Talia Album and Rachel Kass are aiming to collect six million pennies to commemorate those who died.

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I have an op-ed on the Israeli news website Ynet today. You can read it here.

Welcome to those who are visiting this blog for the first time. You can read the background to why I post about Israel here (and there’s a kind of postscript to that here.)

Happy week, everyone.

Follow me on Twitter. Follow OyVaGoy on Twitter.

I’m sure many of you know about the British diver Tom Daley, whose father Rob died last year after battling brain cancer. It was such a tragic loss. Rob and Tom – who I met while researching my biography of Tom – were so very close. Tom has been inspirationally strong since he lost his father.

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This is my latest column for the Jewish Chronicle

I never told you the one about how a Christian/Hindu cult helped me love Israel and Judaism, did I? As a non-Jew who proudly supports Zionism and is fascinated by Judaism, particularly the mystical and Hasidic traditions, I am often asked how I came to feel this way. To me, the real question is why someone would not support Israel and admire Judaism, but of course I understand the curiosity.

The short answer – which I’ve blogged about and mentioned during speeches – is that I became fascinated by the Middle East after the September 11 attacks. To my surprise, having previously had a lazy, hazy perception that Israel were the villains of the conflict, I became more and more pro-Israel the more I learned about the issue. So I started visiting Israel and quickly fell in love with the place.

However, I’ve never written or spoken publicly about a challenging childhood experience that had a part to play in this. When I was nine, I joined a new school in London. I was so excited to be leaving primary school and joining a new, ‘grown-up’ establishment. What I didn’t realise until I got there was that 99 percent of the pupils and their families were members of bizarre religious cult, as were all the staff.

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© Copyright Chas Newkey-Burden. All Rights Reserved. Thanks to Chris Morris.