More blues for Avram: now rabbis turn on Chelsea's boss

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The Independent Online

The frosty reception Avram Grant has received from fans of Chelsea football club is nothing compared with the cold shoulder he's about to get from London's Jewish community.

A senior Rabbi in London has launched a blistering attack on Chelsea's new Israeli manager after learning that he is involved in the controversial religious sect Kabbalah.

According to this week's Jewish Chronicle, Grant, who took over at the west London club after Jose Mourinho's sacking last week, attended a dinner on 13 September at David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, which was organised by the Tel Aviv Kabbalah Centre. Kabbalah's most famous exponent, Madonna, above, was also present.

"This is an example of yet more high-profile people suckered into this nonsensical cult parting with hard-earned cash in the misguided belief that it will buy them some paradise," says Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of the Mill House synagogue.

"What next? Roman Abramovich signing a 10-year deal with the Kabbalah Centre for their logo on the team shirts?"

"When Chelsea do sink, they'll tell him, 'its bad energy – you need to use Kabbalah water in the locker-room showers'."

No one from Chelsea football club was available to comment on the matter yesterday as all the staff were apparently too busy in Hull preparing for the game last night.

Adds Schochet: "Frankly, Mr Grant would do better giving the money to Manchester United."

Hello,Hello: Ioan has changed his tune

The British actors Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Evans have performed a remarkable volte face over the fate of their wedding photographs.

Two weeks ago, the couple, who were married last week in Mexico, made an admirable pledge not to hand over their snaps to any glossy magazines.

"I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere near a magazine with a barge pole," says Gruffudd. "It just turns the whole day into a production. Alice and I just wanted this to be an intimate affair with our family and friends around us."

Strange then that I should open this week's copy of Hello! magazine and find a nine-page spread on Gruffudd and Evans' "Dreamily romantic wedding in Mexico".

A publicist for the pair, who are in Los Angeles, was unfortunately not able to contact them to offer an explanation for their apparent change of heart, though I am assured they did not receive payment for the snaps.

Lisa: George is a safe ride

George Clooney wasn't the only one feeling battered and bruised after his recent motorcycle crash. His new squeeze, Sarah Larson, also ended up in bandages.

But one of Clooney's (numerous) ex-girlfriends, the model Lisa Snowden is more than happy to vouch for his competence behind the handlebars.

"I rode with him all the time, he's a very safe driver," she told me at the Links of London watch launch.

"He never used to attempt any stunts or crazy things like that. We used to ride around all over the place and always wore helmets."

Snowden and Clooney used to be constant companions whenever the Hollywood star was in town, but have clearly grown apart. Until I brought it up, it was the first she'd heard of his accident.

Stand-up row

Labour conference just wouldn't be the same without at least one decent spat. This year's involves a bizarre contretemps between The Observer's political commentator Andrew Rawnsley and The Daily Telegraph's youthful editor, Will Lewis.

Rawnsley, I'm told, apparently took issue with Lewis rising to his feet along with die-hard Labour activists to greet Gordon Brown's speech on Monday.

Apparently Rawnsley felt Lewis should have remained glued to his seat and maintained journalistic distance. Lewis, who claimed he was only seeking a better view, was livid: "You don't disrespect the editor of The Daily Telegraph," he snapped at the bar later. Replied Rawnsley: "This is like The Sopranos." Happily, the pair have since shaken hands and buried the hatchet.

Gordon has a gay old time

Gordon Brown is not just busy cultivating voters in middle England, he's also assiduously courting the pink vote.

On Tuesday night, the Prime Minister was a surprise guest at a disco organised by the gay lobby group Stonewall.

Brown, who has been viewed suspiciously by quarters of the gay community in the past over a poor voting record on gay rights issues, pitched up with his wife, Sarah, and happily began working the room.

"We are delighted he came," says Stonewall's chief executive, Ben Summerskill. "He really enjoyed the evening. Let's hope he comes every year."

Brown apparently stayed at the bash for about 10 minutes, before heading towards the exit to sounds of Abba's Dancing Queen.

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