Arts interviews

How Michael Jackson’s rabbi moved on to Oprah

By Simon Round, May 23, 2008

Minister Shmuley Boteach left Britain nine years ago amid controversy. He talks about embracing fame, TV Judaism and his London appointment with a leading evangelical

Shmuley Boteach is struggling with his chicken kebab. He is sitting outside Reuben’s restaurant in Central London, on a flying visit to Britain — his first in over two years. Such is the velocity of his answers that the special of the day remains largely untouched on his plate. In the short breaks in conversation, he launches into his food like a man possessed, but to no great avail.

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Taking Shatila to Cannes

By Stephen Applebaum, May 23, 2008

Ari Folman made his animated documentary about the Israeli army’s role in a massacre of Palestinians as a way of exorcising personal demons. Now the film could win him the top prize at Cannes.

If Israel’s Ari Folman wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival tomorrow for his harrowing animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, it will be the perfect end to a journey that he never dreamed he would take.

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The junkie rock star who was saved by the Torah

By Paul Lester, May 23, 2008

Depression and drugs made David Berman suicidal. That’s all over.

David Berman, published poet and singer-songwriter with American band Silver Jews, has just been reading the Torah. He does this every day for several hours, in between coming up with the country-inflected rock music and wry, confessional lyrics for his group, most recently for their sixth album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

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Painting by numbers, with a dash of Mr Bean

By Julia Weiner, May 23, 2008

Tal R paints using only seven colours — and sees the Rowan Atkinson character as a good analogy for art.

Tal R certainly set himself strict parameters when preparing work for his current London exhibition in London. Sixteen paintings are on show, all of them the same size (250 x 250cm), and all painted in the same fixed palette of seven colours. 

Tal R was born in Israel in 1967 but has lived most of his life in Denmark. “I was born during the Six-Day War in Tel Aviv,” he says.

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What Caro can't carve

By Julia Weiner, May 16, 2008

Sir Anthony Caro is regarded as the world’s greatest living sculptor. He talks about why he designed a church chapel but not a Holocaust memorial, and how he put his wife’s face into his latest exhibition

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‘I’m the ultimate Jew... Well, bigger than Bibi’

By Paul Lester, May 2, 2008

Jackie Mason, the former rabbi and diminutive, stocky motormouth with the thick New York Jewish accent, is one of the world’s greatest stand-up comedians. His routines, heavy on the differences between Jews and gentiles, have been making people laugh for over 45 years. As notorious as he is famous, he once made an obscene gesture at America’s leading TV host, Ed Sullivan, live on air. He was also allegedly threatened — with bullets — by Frank Sinatra after poking fun at his then-wife, Mia Farrow.

Playing with destiny

By Rodney Greenberg, May 2, 2008

Raphael Wallfisch only found out he will star in the ‘most significant’ concert of his life when he saw the posters. Luckily, he’s available, he tells Rodney Greenberg

A friend told me: ‘Did you know you are playing Schelomo at the Konzerthaus in Berlin on May 8?’ She showed me a leaflet. I said: ‘I hope I’m free.’”


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He scores emotions

By Mark Glanville, April 18, 2008

The world-renowned composer Osvaldo Golijov was slammed by UK critics for ‘sentimentality’. He tells Mark Glanville why feelings are key to his music

He can certainly pull them in,” remarks a well-known figure on the international opera stage surveying the packed Barbican Hall in London. Ninety minutes later, many of the audience are on their feet, paying tribute to the music of Osvaldo Golijov, the Argentinian-Jewish composer whose opera Ainadamar was given its first UK performance in a concert version this month.

Ran Tal: Orphaned by idealism

By Nathan Jeffay, April 11, 2008

Director Ran Tal focuses on the kibbutz children who were separated from their parents and raised according to the principles of collective living. It seemed a huge price to pay for utopia


An elderly Israeli man is explaining how he got his name. "There was a vote... Nachum won by eight votes." Another man recalls how he never called his parents "mummy" or "daddy", only by their names. Anything else was "too bourgeois".

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Simon Garfield: A collector confesses

By Alex Kasriel, April 10, 2008

Simon Garfield has written a book about his passion for philately.


Simon Garfield has a confession to make. He's been having an affair. But not with another woman (although that is true as well). His clandestine passion is less about midnight tristes and steamy sex, and more about visits to the Post Office, because the London-based author has an obsession with stamps.

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