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‘Imagine This’ failed because it wasn’t great art

By John Nathan, December 18, 2008

Tomorrow night, a skillfully staged, well-performed musical with a good, original score and which has reportedly received nightly standing ovations since it opened one month ago will close. Why? The assumption is because too many people thought the West End stage is no place to deal with the show’s subject — the Holocaust. Last week, Eliane Glaser described how Holocaust museums increasingly attempt to attract the public to their exhibitions by taking the “risk of entertainment”.

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Travel on Shabbat works for me

By Tony Bayfield, December 18, 2008

If there is one term I would love to abolish from the community’s vocabulary, it is “non Orthodox”. I hate it because it implies that people like me are against things rather than in favour of a positive, distinctive expression of Judaism called Reform.

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Ukraine: why we should worry

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

There is a little grave in a vast cemetery on the outskirts of Kiev that stands out from its dilapidated and rundown surroundings. It is swept daily and fresh flowers are arranged in a vase. In March, hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists will make their annual pilgrimage there to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the death of 13-year-old Andrei Yushchinsky and the last major blood libel case in Europe — the Beilis Trial.

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Q: does Israel prefer the JC or the Guardian?

By Stephen Pollard, December 18, 2008

Here’s your starter for ten: name the British newspaper the Israeli government feels most antagonistic towards. The Guardian? Only last week, we reported that the paper which regularly gives a platform to anti-Israel propagandists refused to publish a letter from the Israeli Embassy’s press secretary pointing out that one of its guest columnists was Hamas’s London representative.

Well, no. It’s not the Guardian.

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Festival of lights is a festival-lite

By Hadley Freeman, December 18, 2008

With maturity comes the death of happy illusions — this is a truism most people older than five learn, usually after they’ve spotted a Santa Claus sneaking off to have a quiet fag in their local shopping mall. But I truly do believe, without any self-pity or self-centred grandstanding, that Jewish kids have it worse than most.

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Why, as a wife, I still want to see other men

By Aliza Hausman, December 11, 2008

I had tea with my friend David the other day. And it was fun. But when I told my husband that I went to tea with a classmate — a male classmate — his face was less than sunny. It contorted with jealousy as he explained that it wasn’t appropriate for me to be having tea with another man. When I argued my case (“We were in Starbucks, for G-d’s sake!”), my husband eventually relented. But the whole experience left me thinking about the state of male-female friendships in the Orthodox world.

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Let’s not sentimentalise the Shoah

By Eliane Glaser, December 11, 2008

In September this year, the best-selling crime novelist, Lynda La Plante, was accused of plagiarism after an Australian reader pointed out that passages in her 1993 novel Entwined appeared to have been lifted from a memoir written by the Auschwitz survivor Olga Lengyel in 1947. Stephen Smith, director of the Holocaust Centre, warned that “this is an example of how easy it is to use testimony purely because of its moral power”.

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The financial turmoil may help Israel in 2009

By Daniella Peled, December 11, 2008

As the hangover fades on January 1, watchers of world affairs can look forward to a busy schedule over the following year with the inauguration of a new US president in January, Israeli elections in February and Iranian polls in June, not to mention the ongoing global financial turmoil and rogue nuclear programmes.

In Jerusalem, policy planners have been busy with their own forecast for 2009, and a quick look throws up some interesting predictions.

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It’s my column, I’m sticking to it

By Joe Joseph, December 11, 2008

I was in the middle of mending a blue Japanese bowl with a tube of superglue when the phone call came. Aren’t these fast-acting superglues a real godsend when you’re in a rush and you really need to bond broken objects together “in seconds”. (Obviously I’m using the phrase “in seconds” in its strict superglue sense of “in roughly the same length of time that it takes to stage an American presidential election campaign”).

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UK and Israel have a special relationship too

By Uri Dromi, December 4, 2008

I have just written the obituary of Binyamin Zironi for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. He was a former member of the vehemently anti-British Zionist underground movement, Irgun, and his death evoked for many in Israel the worst days of the British Mandate. Back then, Zironi had a price of £200 on his head and was captured — and tortured — by a CID officer, who, in turn, was killed by Zironi’s comrades.

But this is a relatively rare blemish. In general, the history of relations between Britain and the Jewish inhabitants of the region makes for happier reading.

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