Arts features

The lowly East Ender who gave Britain one of its greatest gifts

By Julia Weiner, June 25, 2009

One of the most important art collections in the country is about to be unveiled in its brand new home at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Amassed over 40 years and worth more than £100 million, the collection includes some stunning Judaica, alongside important gold and silver pieces, and Italian mosaics. And it existence is thanks to an East Ender called Abraham Bernstein.

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Congratulations — you had us all in stitches

June 18, 2009

We have a winner. The JC readers’ joke competion proved extremely competitive but the judges, comic writers David Schneider and Ivor Baddiel, finally awarded victory to Ron Goldstein of Cockfosters, North London.

Mr Goldstein offered this slice of rabbinical wisdom:

Three ministers of religion are in a train carriage on their way to an ecumenical conference. Inevitably the talk gets around to the thorny subject of “when does life actually begin”.

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Dorien gets serious

By John Nathan, June 18, 2009

‘This is a play which is sort of outside my comfort zone,” says Lesley Joseph during a break in rehearsals. By her own admission the actress is better known for comedy, pantomime and light entertainment, and best known of all as Dorien, the glammed-up, high-heeled Jewish neighbour in the Marks and Gran sitcom Birds of a Feather. So you can see why the role of Kathleen, a psychologically fragile, ageing woman who has to have her shoelaces and belts taken away from her, is a departure.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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