A vision of a rabbi inspired me to sing

By Simon Round, January 21, 2010
Cainer: “Out of the kosher closet”

Cainer: “Out of the kosher closet”

Many people feel they have a vocation for their jobs but few in showbusiness have actually experienced a calling. But this happened to Daniel Cainer, who had what he describes as “a vision” which compelled him to perform.

Cainer, who for the past two years has been touring with his successful show Jewish Chronicles, says the original idea of writing and singing Jewish-inspired songs came to him in a rather unexpected way.

“In my imagination I was visited by this old rabbi who told me to write this stuff. That probably sounds a bit ‘woo woo’. But since then it seems to have taken on a life of its own.”

The show has been to the Edinburgh Fringe and he will take it to Australia later this year. It has also been noticed and praised by, among others, Alan Bennett and Howard Jacobson.

At its core are songs related to Cainer’s Jewish identity, some of which are satirical — like a new number he has written about Manchester’s recently convicted cocaine rabbi — and some which were in the original show, including a song which poignantly tells the story of his parents’ divorce.

At the heart of 49-year-old Cainer’s material is the mid-life rediscovery of his Jewishness. He explains: “I guess it’s a bit of a cliché. In middle age I started to look at why I felt the way I feel. It occurred to me that the reason I feel this way is because I’m Jewish.

“It’s like when my brother [the Daily Mail astrologer Jonathan Cainer] says something like: ‘You’ve got Saturn ascending and Uranus on your triple conjunction’ and I think, thank goodness it’s not my fault, then.”

While Cainer, who on Wednesday joined Jewish comedian Mark Maier for a show in Radlett, claims to represent no one he does feel his particular brands of Jewishness strikes a chord with audiences. “It’s a great relief to have come out of the kosher closet, as it were. I’m hardly United Synagogue but my observations seems to hit a chord across all denominations. I do lay on the shtetl shmaltz a little but I’m also a little edgy and risky — it seems to resonate.”

Daniel Cainer performs ‘Jewish Chronicles’ at the New End Theatre on Sunday January 24 and January 31. Tel: 0870 033 2733

Last updated: 1:46pm, January 21 2010