The Diary

Les Miserables - the Shabbat version

May 25, 2014

Stanmore Synagogue’s Purimspiel is still raising smiles weeks after the festival.

A spoof on a Shabbat service sung in the style of the musical Les Miserables, it has drawn applause far beyond Stanmore via Youtube.

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Beatles best for Tzipi Livni

May 23, 2014

“Don’t let it get under your skin” — a line from Hey Jude that must have appealed to Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. When she returned home after a trip to London last week, facing right-wing calls for her resignation, she tweeted that the Beatles classic was her recommended choice of Shabbat song.

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Inside story of JC report

May 23, 2014

JC reporter Rosa Doherty’s documentary, Jail Birds, on the impact of prison on the lives of the families of those inside, aired on new TV station London Live this week (and is available online). It stemmed from her own experience as a teenager — when her then boyfriend was convicted for robbery and received a 12-month sentence.

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Merron stands up to be counted

May 19, 2014

Board of Deputies chief executive-designate Gillian Merron has more than one string to her bow. The Liberal Judaism board member and former Labour government minister has been taking a drama course whose requirements included delivering a stand-up session in a pub. When Board meetings descend into deathly dullness, you know who to call on to lighten them.

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Israeli with too good manners

May 19, 2014

Communities Minister Baroness Warsi must have been flattered by her greeting from a visiting Israeli diplomat at a Foreign Office do this week. Unsure of the protocol in meeting a baroness, the woman performed a curtsy, prompting a Warsi aide to remark, “I hope she is not going to ask me to do that in the office every morning.

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Close shave for rabbi

May 19, 2014

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, a leading light in American Reform, was guest of honour at the Liberal Judaism biennial here. But not before he could convince a sceptical immigration officer of his clerical credentials at the airport. As she scrutinised his smooth chin and lack of black hat, she observed, “You don’t look like a rabbi."

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Hebrew Gogglebox

May 12, 2014

TV fame beckons for loud-mouthed Israelis. A Hebrew version of hit Channel 4 show Gogglebox, where people talk about watching TV, is on the cards and producers Uzong Films are looking for “opinionated Hebrew-speaking TV fanatics” in London.

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Frost on kibbutz

May 12, 2014

Actor Bob Hoskins, who died last week, was among many celebrities who had a spell on kibbutz when they were young.

But few can beat Nick Frost (right, of Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End) who told the Guardian that he went for a three-month trip to kibbutz and liked it so much that he stayed for two years.

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Authors shortlisted for prize

May 12, 2014

Two Jewish authors have been shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize this year: Leeds-born Australian Mark Dapin for his novel Spirit House, about Jewish PoWs in a Japanese camp, and Esther Woolfson for her exploration of wild life in Aberdeen, Field Notes From A Hidden City.

The £10,000 prize goes to a book which best evokes the spirit of a place.

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Israel's most visionary song

May 12, 2014

Even though one newspaper tipped Mei Finegold as a favourite for last week's Eurovision, her song for Israel didn't even make the final.

But even if politics have reduced the country's prospects in recent years, it still has a creditable record in the competition, having won it three times.

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