The man on the corner of Bilu and Marmorek breaks off his conversation as I pass and says: “Do you know why this street is called Bilu?” He is wearing a khaki shirt and shorts, has a grey beard, and looks like an anachronism in Tel Aviv.
I shake my head.
“It’s an acronym made from the initial letters of Beit Ya’akov Lekhu Ve-nelkha — Let the house of Jacob go — the war-cry, if I can call it that, of a dozen or so idealists who came to Palestine from Russia in 1882.”
Frank Auerbach is one of Britain’s most renowned painters. A refugee from Nazism, he arrived in this country alone aged seven from Berlin — his parents perished in the Holocaust. Now aged 78, he has been painting the same subjects for almost 50 years — the cityscape around his studio in Camden Town, north London, and a group of regular models.
A new exhibition of his early work has just opened at the Courtauld Gallery in London. It focuses on a group of 14 paintings of building sites in London between 1952 and 1962.
A plastic bag full of rubbish; piles and piles of newspaper; a vandalised car. No, not a street in a particularly blighted housing estate, but London’s Serpentine Gallery, which is currently hosting the work of influential Jewish artist, Gustav Metzger.
The exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the date when Metzger decided to abandon painting to use everyday objects in his art as a critique of the terrible wastage of consumer society. Now aged 83, he continues to make new work that acts as a wake-up call to the public.
Instead of dwelling on the bad luck that a thirteenth anniversary year could bring, the UK Jewish Film Festival is, fittingly, celebrating its barmitzvah year.
It will be the biggest ever year for the festival, which started life as the Brighton Jewish Film Festival back in 1996 before relocating to London and rebranding itself as the UK Jewish Film Festival in 2004.
The Coen brothers new film A Serious Man tops the bill at the festival, along with the UK Premiere of Adam Ressurected director by Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader and starring Jeff Goldblem.
Vladimir Ashkenazy and the London Philharmonic Orchestra:
The legendary Russian-born pianist comes to the UK to conduct the LPO in a concert of Shostakovich’s mighty 8th Symphony and Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto. An invigorating way to start off the New Year after the Rosh Hashanah hibernation. Tuesday September 22, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, 0871 663 2500, www.southbankcentre.co.uk
When South Bank Show host Melvyn Bragg sat down to watch the first film of the flagship arts programme’s final series, he turned to the director Tony Palmer and asked: “Are you expecting me to believe all this?”
It is a question viewers will also raise when Palmer’s documentary about Richard Wagner and his relatives airs on Sunday, revealing, as it does, the family’s entanglement with Hitler and the Nazis.
Jewish collectors lead the field in Britain when it comes to contemporary art — Charles Saatchi, Anita Zabludowicz and Frank Cohen have all opened galleries featuring selections from their extensive collections. However, all three are multimillionaires. So is it possible to build up an important art collection on a more modest salary?
Since I began my stand-up career on the opening night of the Comedy Store in May 1979, I have chalked up countless gigs both here and abroad.
However, my appearance at the recent English comedy night held at Berlin’s Kookaburra club ranked as the most unusual I have ever done. This was my first-ever visit to Germany, and I decided before the gig to go on successive days to the city’s Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial. My mind was filled afterwards with haunting images.