Israeli story wins at Edinburgh Festival

Shachar Levi  in Edinburgh with his storytelling prize —  a bottle of rare Grant’s whisky, nearly as old as him

Shachar Levi in Edinburgh with his storytelling prize — a bottle of rare Grant’s whisky, nearly as old as him

An Israeli performer triumphed in an international storytelling contest in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival — despite having no experience in the genre.

Shachar Lavi’s reminiscence of his barmitzvah earned him the top prize at the annual Grant's True Tales Festival of Storytelling, which pitted established storytellers against first-timers like Mr Lavi. He decided to enter on a whim after helping organise a similar event in Tel Aviv. “I’d never been on stage before but I wasn’t nervous – I know a lot of actors,” he said. He beat seven other storytellers in the final, from countries including Bulgaria and South Africa.

Mr Lavi, 28, recounted how his childhood pet lamb was slaughtered by his shochet grandfather in honour of his coming of age. “Everything was decorated, everyone was happy,” he said. “I look at the stage and I see my grandfather at the right and on the left I see a tree and a rope and a sheep.”

“It was a traumatic, inhumane sight,” said the music producer, who is from a religious family of Moroccan Jewish descent. The experience prompted his first adult experience after his barmitzvah. “I decided to become a vegetarian,” he said. “I thought people would be shocked by my story but then I took my jacket off to show a McDonald’s t-shirt – I wanted to finish with humour.”

Last updated: 10:42am, August 30 2012