Israel's Habima play will come to Shakespeare's Globe - thanks to the JC

By Jessica Elgot, April 19, 2012
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A scene from an earlier Habima production of The Merchant of Venice

A scene from an earlier Habima production of The Merchant of Venice

The Israeli theatre company targeted by boycotters for its forthcoming performance at the Globe Theatre next month is £10,000 short on funding for the visit.

But, after an intervention by the JC, the Israeli Foreign Ministry this week agreed to cover the shortfall.

Habima National Theatre disclosed the financial headache to Islington Chabad's Rabbi Mendy Korer, whom the company had approached for help for its religiously observant members.

Habima is to perform The Merchant of Venice as part of the 37-play Globe to Globe Shakespeare festival in May.

Its two performances are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, May 28 and 29. The first performance takes place before the end of the second day of Shavuot, but Israelis observe only one day of the festival.

Earlier this month, leading actors and directors, including Oscar-winner Emma Thompson, and Mark Rylance, the first artistic director of the Globe, signed a letter to the Guardian asking the Globe to withdraw its invitation to Habima because it had performed in settlements. The move to exclude Habima was condemned by leading actors, writers and playwrights, including Maureen Lipman, Simon Callow, Steven Berkoff Sir Arnold Wesker, Thomas Ades and Howard Jacobson.

Habima has been reticent about making any comments over the call for a boycott, or any public appeal regarding the funding shortfall, fearing further negative publicity.

But after initial reluctance, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, informed by the JC about the shortfall in Habima's funding, has promised to make sure that any financial difficulties are covered to make sure the company is able to perform in London.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London said that the Foreign Ministry was the "biggest exporter of Israeli culture to the world" and would ensure that the performance went ahead.

Rabbi Mendy Korer said he and his family would be hosting the most observant member of the cast, Jacob Cohen, who is playing Shylock. Rabbi Korer said: "It turns out we are the closest place to the Globe Theatre. The actor will stay here or in Stamford Hill over Shavuot and then move to the hotel [with the rest of the cast], where we will continue to provide food".

Last updated: 11:20am, May 22 2012