At the age of 14, Rob Richman thought he was ugly "from head to toe".
By the time he was 15, he weighed less than 5st, had been admitted to a private psychiatric hospital and was being force-fed through a tube in his nose.
Parents, friends and the Southgate Jewish community were baffled as to why an intelligent, polite boy from a middle-class traditional family in north London had starved himself to the point that he was too frail to walk.
The newly-refurbished Jewish Museum opens on Wednesday after a two-year, £10 million transformation. It boasts one of the finest collections of Judaica in the world, four permanent galleries and dozens of state-of-the-art interactive displays. Families will love it, say the museum's administrators. But will they?
There is only one way to find out - send in a family and see what they make of Anglo-Jewry's newest attraction.
"How do you become a writer?" I am often asked by people who feel they have a book, play, collection of poetry in them, but have no idea how to get it out. Accompanying this question is often an underlying feeling of being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, of having to prove that they can deliver the goods. Comparisons with successful published works crowd the mind and dwarf the would-be writer into utter insignificance.
Author and poet Miriam Halahmi, who will be running a workshop on writing fiction from memoirs at this year's Jewish Book Week, is no stranger to the challenge.
It was during the summer of 2005 that 21-year-old Pinner resident Jonny Fraser drowned while trying to save a friend. The active Reform Synagogue Youth member had completed his second year of a politics, philosophy and economics degree at Oxford University when he embarked on the three-week lone trip around India.
For 10 years I have been working on a biography of the Anglo-Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885). He was one of the first global celebrities. Jews and gentiles alike celebrated his centenary with such enthusiasm that the post office near his home in Rasmgate laid on extra staff to cope with the flood of letters and telegrams from all over the world.
He is the darling of the French tabloids. Long before the earthquake he was campaigning for aid for Haiti. He is part of France’s most unusual family business — which almost got him blown up by neo-Nazis. He is a member of the French, New York and California Bars, and also served in the Israeli army. He works for the French Prime Minister as an adviser and he is a friend of President Sarkozy.
Six years ago, a small club from Galilee won the Israeli State Cup. It was the equivalent of Wimbledon beating Liverpool in the FA Cup Final at Wembley — except more so, because B’nei Sakhnin were the first Arab club ever to achieve this kind of success in Israeli football, and in winning the cup, surviving in the country’s Premier division and representing Israel in the Uefa Cup in Europe, Sakhnin became a focal point and a source of pride for all Arab Israelis.
More than 4 decades ago, a 20-year-old student took a trip which changed his life. He spent two months in the United States in 1968, meeting some of the leading thinkers of American Jewry. That student was Jonathan Sacks, now the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who recalls how his formative experience in the US was made possible by a travel grant awarded by B’nai B’rith UK.
When Jackie Benjamin gave birth to her first son 18 years ago, the last thing she expected was a descent into manic depression. “I felt elated and euphoric, and so keen to write down all the details of Alex’s birth I didn’t feel like sleeping,” says the Birmingham-based lawyer.
But gradually she became more and more fraught trying to breastfeed, while the lack of sleep made her “so tired, I thought I was going to die. No-one mentioned they thought I was going mad, but when a social worker called, I did wonder if they wanted to section me or take my child away.”