The Diary

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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New light in hidden sellers

May 4, 2014

Yesterday’s opening night of the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival was due to offer a triple comic treat — three shorts from Peter Sellers thought to have had been lost for 50 years.

Sellers, who died in 1980, was famed as bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series but it is for such films as Dr Strangelove that he is best remembered.

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Finding rhythm in algorithm

May 4, 2014

If you wonder where poetry is going in the 21st century, head up to the Bury Text Festival. Its line-up includes Eran Hadas — “the most prominent poet in the Israeli internet poetry scene”, says festival director Tony Trehy.

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West London wedding belles

May 2, 2014

West London Synagogue will be open for more wedding business after securing a licence to perform civil marriages in its Stern Hall.

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Ant & Dec's Tel Aviv Takeaway

May 2, 2014

There was great excitement among some post-Pesach travellers on the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport last Thursday.

When they saw the Monarch aircraft to take them to Luton, it sported the logo Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

The aircraft was the one used to transport competition winners on the ITV show to a prize holiday in Florida. So what it was doing in Israel?

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Still keeping it up at 90

April 27, 2014

Unflagging is a word that you might well use for scientist Carl Djerassi, famed for his pioneering work on the contraceptive pill. The 90-year old Jewish polymath is also a playwright, whose latest work premieres next week at the Kings Head Theatre in London.

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