Strictly Kosher: I give it two sequins

By Simon Round, July 14, 2011

It was called Strictly Kosher but if you were taking all your information from this documentary you would probably conclude that Manchester Jewry was a cross between Glee and Fiddler on the Roof.

We saw the community through the eyes of three main characters - or should that be caricatures?

Joel owns a clothes shop frequented by women who are never knowingly under-sequinned. He introduced us to his customers - there was a woman with a wardrobe "bigger than this shop" and then there was Manchester's answer to Imelda Marcos. In Joel's words, Jews like "a bit of pizzazz and penang". Even that made more sense than his line about the Orthodox. "They have a lot of sex because they're not allowed to watch TV and they need something to keep them warm." Since when did TV keep you warm?

But this was like Maimonides compared to the barber who declared: "It's in the Bible that you can't cut below a number two on the peyot."

Elsewhere we met modern Orthodox balaboste Bernette, who wandered around her home saying things like "Would you like another bagel?" and "Have a pickled cucumber". Meanwhile, Jack, a Holocaust survivor, for whom Manchester was his adopted home, provided a little balance by speaking poignantly about his life (but then kind of spoiled it by showing us Greek statues in his bathroom).

Clearly, no-one goes hungry in Manchester. We went from brit to engagement to wedding to Purim party, and everywhere you looked, there were singing, fressing, dancing Mancunians. There were some good parties to choose from, but perhaps the most jaw-dropping was Joel's daughter Mia's Bollywood batmitzvah, complete with Indian dancers (do Indian families ever have parties with Chasidic dancing, and if so, how do we feel about that?)

If you are not worried about a bit of stereotyping, this was the show for you. I was, at times shifting uncomfortably on my seat, but perhaps that makes me that other Jewish stereotype, the touchy Jew.

Last word went to Jack, who stated that he had come from hell and ended up in a place which was "like paradise". Paradise? Well, everyone certainly seemed to be having a very good time.

V more tv, p28

Last updated: 2:02pm, July 14 2011