Arts features

Leeds has got talent

By Sasha Brenner, June 17, 2009

The Leeds Jewish International Performing Arts Festival opens on Sunday, heralding five days of comedy, theatre, dance, film and music, from 30 top acts from across the globe.

Headlining on the opening night is the New York-based Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg with his award-winning tribute act Simply Barbra. Composer Marvin Hamlisch is a big fan – “You almost think: 'My God! Is that really Streisand? Very impressive.”

Representing home grown talent is comedian Mark Maier, a star of Jewish comedy scene, and a regular on TV shows.


The kosher birthplace of punk

By John Belknap, June 11, 2009

Much has been written about a club in New York where punk rock was born. CBGB, founded in 1973 by the late Hilly Kristal, the son of Orthodox Russian-Jewish immigrants, was the place in New York City where experimental music could flourish in a turgid age of glitter, glam and prog rock.

One band after another discovered they could come to CBGB on the Bowery, a bleak skid-row populated only by tramps and winos, and play their original material. No matter how far out, no matter how strange, as long as it was theirs, they could play it. After a


Apprentice Watch: Encore, Lord Sugar ... and then depart

By MichaelSophocles, June 10, 2009

Whenever I am at a party and I have drunk a little too much red wine, I find it difficult to control my short temper. It is sometimes made even harder by other guests who want to talk to me about The Apprentice and my memories of where it all went wrong, and how much they empathised with my ordeal. Much as I appreciate their concern — and I never mind talking about myself — I do not think they really can empathise.


I turned my great escape into art

By Debby Elley, June 10, 2009

The third and final phase of sculptor Frank Meisler’s project to commemorate the most significant journey of his life has just been completed with the unveiling of a bronze monument in the Polish city of Gdansk.

The life-size piece, titled Kindertransport — The Departure, is located at the city’s railway station and depicts a group of five hopeful Jewish children preparing to leave.


Two giants of literature — and one big question

By John Nathan, June 10, 2009

In Zoë Heller’s rather brilliant third novel, The Believers, faith is the theme. Each member of the New York-Jewish, atheistic Litvinoff family is finding that long held beliefs are being severely tested.


Apprentice Watch: Drama at last as the best two go through

By MichaelSophocles, June 4, 2009

The interview round — my absolute favourite. I used to love watching the candidates who made it that far being torn to shreds by Sir Alan’s henchmen, or saving themselves through their communication skills alone.
And as a candidate myself, I regarded the tasks as a mere build-up to the moment when I would come face-to-face with an inquisitor and put my professional and personal life on the line.


The refugee’s philosopher

By Gerald Jacobs, June 4, 2009

After years of silence, suddenly, the Canadian writer Anne Michaels is everywhere. Garlanded with prizes and praise as a poet, she is positively revered as a novelist — on the strength of just one novel, Fugitive Pieces, published in the mid-1990s.

Now, following 12 years of meticulous preparation, her second, The Winter Vault, has been released in the UK more or less simultaneously with the film version of Fugitive Pieces. And she has already written a substantial chunk of her third novel.


Heard any good Jewish jokes lately?

June 3, 2009

Have you heard the one about the Jewish boy who got a part in the school play?

“I’m playing a Jewish husband,” he tells his mother proudly. “That’s no good,” she replies, “tell them you want a speaking part.”

Perhaps not the greatest joke in the world. In fact, we’re sure you can do better. Send us your favourite Jewish joke and you could have it printed in the JC, and even told by a comedian to an audience at London ’s famous Comedy Store.

Email us your joke to and we will put it on this website, and print a selection in the paper.


Apprentice Watch: My advice? Never be afraid to look stupid

By MichaelSophocles, May 27, 2009

I have always tried to live life without fear. My friends have often said that I must be either very brave or very stupid and, on reflection, I think my antics over the past 26 years have fallen into both boxes.

My time on The Apprentice certainly reflected my fearless side, but I knew there would be moments on the show when I would come across as a prize idiot. To accept your faults, no matter how embarrassing they are, is an integral part of being a success on the show, and in business generally. Sir Alan is looking for a candidate who can be objective and honest about their flaws.


Influenced by Picasso, inspired by Israel

By Julia Weiner, May 27, 2009

The injunction against “graven images” in the Second Commandment has inhibited some of the world’s greatest Jewish sculptors from creating works exploring their heritage. Jacob Epstein admitted as much when he revealed that he would have liked to produce sculptures for Jewish audiences, but felt it was impossible as “the synagogue has no use for me”.

One Jewish sculptor who did find a way to make great works with Jewish themes was Jacques Lipchitz — an exhibition of whose marvellous drawings is currently on show in London.