Arts features

He was our Bernie, and he liked it hot

By Michael Freedland, October 7, 2010

Tony Curtis was more than an idol, if Jews were allowed to have such things. He was that from his hair to his shiny pointed shoes. And then some.

Jews loved him because in an age when it was fashionable for actors to cover up their Jewish heritage along with their original names, Curtis did none of that. He helped Jewish causes, he gave money to communities wracked with problems when the red flags came down in Eastern Europe - particularly those in Hungary where his parents were born - but above all, everyone knew he was really Bernie Schwartz from the Bronx.


Interview: Sid Caesar

By Barbra Paskin, October 7, 2010

It is early afternoon in a hot and steamy Beverly Hills. Sid Caesar's sprawling hilltop house perches on top of a lush canyon that overlooks the bustle of the city. Up here the air is clear and tranquil, punctuated with the sweet-smelling fragrance of jasmine and gardenia. It has been the Caesars' home for more than 40 years.


Rahm Emanuel launches Chicago bid

By Jennifer Lipman, October 4, 2010

Rahm Emanuel has launched his campaign to become mayor of Chicago.

The Jewish politician announced on Friday that he was stepping down from his position as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

Mr Emanuel, a former Illinois congressman, also served as a political aide to President Bill Clinton.

In a video statement, Mr Emanuel spoke of his father, who fought for the Irgun in the run-up to Israel’s independence.

He said: “My father came to Chicago as an immigrant from Israel. I was born here – and my wife Amy and I raised our three children here.”


Interview: Adam Feinstein

By John Nathan, September 21, 2010

It was on an aeroplane that Adam Feinstein first heard that his son Johnny, the youngest of his three children, was autistic. In the way that it is often easier to open up to someone you have never met and will probably never see again, Feinstein found himself telling the man next to him about something that was giving him great cause for concern.


The designer of a century

By Melanie Abrams, September 21, 2010

If anyone is responsible for elevating the field of design into a respected art form, it is a Jewish boy from Lithuania called Lev Samoilovich Rosenberg - otherwise and better known as Leon Bakst. He was the stage set and costume designer whose close association with the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev revolutionised the fin de siècle art world and theatre design in a way that still has reverberations today.


Interview: Sarah Solemani

By Simon Round, September 16, 2010

Is it possible to write a comedy about a couple living on benefits without it being perceived as a commentary on Broken Britain?

Sarah Solemani thinks so. She plays Becky in Him & Her - a sitcom about Steve and Becky, a couple of happy benefit bums who never leave their bedsit. In some ways it is very BBC3 - featuring, as the continuity announcer might put it, strong language and frank discussion of sex. There is also quite a lot of going to the toilet (with sound effects) which leaves little to the imagination.


Edinburgh top 10 - the acts we loved

September 2, 2010

Rachel Rose Reid
A former UK Young Storyteller of the Year, Rachel Rose Reid is making a name for herself in the ancient art of storytelling. In her self-penned show, I'm Hans Christian, she entwined modern tales of love that go awry with the unglossed fairy tales and unfulfilled sexual longings of Hans Christian Andersen, the 19th-century Danish author of more than 200 stories.


Interview: Steven Isserlis

By Jessica Duchen, September 2, 2010

Steven Isserlis is probably Britain's best-loved and most highly respected solo cellist. At 51, with his distinctive mop of curls and a family tree that takes in figures as diverse as Rabbi Moses Isserlis, Felix Mendelssohn, Karl Marx and Helena Rubinstein, he has been at the forefront of British musical life over several decades.

As a cellist his tone is remarkable - indeed, unmistakable: he has long preferred to use gut strings, which give his sound a burnished, soulful timbre rather than the harsher, sock-it-to-'em quality of the metal strings employed by most big-time soloists.


Interview: Natalie Clein

By Jessica Elgot, August 26, 2010

Natalie Clein once said her pet hate is getting on an aeroplane with her cello, and people asking her why she does not play the flute. But almost as irritating for the world-renowned cellist is the suggestion that classical music is elitist.

Her green eyes blaze and her back stiffens. "When anyone says the word 'elitist' I can feel myself starting to bristle. I want everyone to come to my concerts," she exclaims.


Interview: Robert Wistrich

By Winston Pickett, August 26, 2010

Robert Wistrich, often described as the leading expert on the history of antisemitism, has a new book out on the subject - a 1,100-page brick of a book, in fact. Variously described as a "history" or "encyclopaedia", Wistrich's Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad is actually more a lengthy exposition of the ideas behind anti-Jewish hatred - their origins and particularly their cancerous spread through the contemporary world.