Stephen Pollard

A better way to report the views of British Jews

By Stephen Pollard, January 14, 2015

One of the frustrations for anyone working in the Jewish community is that it has been impossible to provide a reliable snapshot of opinion on any given subject. What were our views of the Gaza war last summer? Do we think shechita is under threat? Have we experienced antisemitism? The list of issues on which it would be invaluable to know what Jews think is almost endless.


Opera: Tristan und Isolde

By Stephen Pollard, December 11, 2014

I first heard Tristan und Isolde 29 years ago, with Reginald Goodall conducting at the ENO. Those performances set a high bar – they were so all-encompassing that I was unable to listen to music for weeks afterwards and, to this day, I can recall the impact.


Balotelli: Reaction is both stupid and dangerous

By Stephen Pollard, December 4, 2014

Another week, another "football antisemite" exposed.

And another series of outraged comments from our communal leaders.

Last week it was Dave Whelan, the Wigan chairman, who informed a reporter that "Jewish people chase money more than everybody else", prompting demands that he be ritually defenestrated.


Opera review: Idomeneo

By Stephen Pollard, November 13, 2014

Martin Kusej's cult-cum-dictatorship interpretation of Idomeneo was roundly booed on its opening night. But although much of it is rather silly - Arbace wanders around, inexplicably, with an accordion - much of it is rather good. It's thought-provoking to have the chorus singing not in admiration of Idomeneo but compelled by force to do so.


Faiths unite in fury over two-religion GCSE plan

By Stephen Pollard, September 23, 2014

Plans by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to require GCSE religious studies students to learn about two faiths have been delayed following a row between Mrs Morgan and the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.

The reform was due to have been announced this week and trumpeted at next week's Conservative Party conference.


Opera review: Xerxes

By Stephen Pollard, September 18, 2014

I've seen Nicholas Hytner's production of Handel's comic opera at least a dozen times since it opened in 1985. And still I don't feel sated. This is simply one of the greatest opera productions - and it changed forever the perception of Handel as an opera composer. From box office death, Handel now almost guarantees a sell out.

This latest revival doesn't merely seem as fresh as ever.


JW3 and LJCC set to unite in historic merger

By Stephen Pollard, September 17, 2014

JW3, the £50m London community centre, is to merge with the LJCC, the London Jewish Cultural Centre, based at Ivy House in Golders Green.

The merger, which has long been predicted but has been repeatedly denied by both organisations, will be completed within the year.

As yet there is no name for the new joint organisation. But both bodies are keen to maintain their identities.


DEC Gaza appeal

By Stephen Pollard, August 14, 2014

There has been some controversy over the advert for the DEC Gaza appeal in this week’s paper.

I understand why some people are angry and upset and I thought it important to respond.

This is an advert, and not an expression of the JC's view. We keep editorial coverage entirely separate from our commercial operations.


Jewish Chronicle is donating Tricycle’s cash to Israel charity

By Stephen Pollard, August 13, 2014

For a number of years the JC has carried a small weekly advert from the Tricycle Theatre. Given the theatre’s demand that the UK Jewish Film Festival sever its ties to Israel, we could simply have severed our own ties to the Tricycle.


Is this the tipping point?

By Stephen Pollard, August 7, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”.

On Tuesday, Baroness Warsi resigned because the government refused to attack Israel sufficiently.

Later that day, the Tricycle Theatre told a Jewish charity it was not welcome unless it denounced Israel.


John Kerry'sHamas-friendly ceasefire plan exposes his incompetence to all

By Stephen Pollard, July 31, 2014

It takes a special type of talent to unite Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Saudis, Egypt and pretty much everyone except Hamas, Turkey and Qatar. The type of talent that mixes incompetence with jaw-dropping arrogance.

The talent, in other words, of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry.


Opera: Maria Stuarda

By Stephen Pollard, July 17, 2014

What is opera? One thing it isn't - or shouldn't be - is a parade of singers warbling for the sake of warbling. There is a long tradition of such productions - to wit, the regular vehicles staged for Dame Joan Sutherland to show off her vocal talents - that are more often than not hack works that would never deserve to be revived in any other context.


Thanks for nothing, RIBA. Zero.

By Stephen Pollard, July 3, 2014

A few years ago I was mugged at the bottom of the escalators at Charing Cross Station. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the young men responsible.

They could so easily have gone further and slashed me with a knife, or given my head a kicking. As it was, all they did was push me over and grab my wallet.


Morally corrupt Belgium

By Stephen Pollard, June 6, 2014

It didn’t take long. Within days of the Brussels murders, the conspiracy theorists (for which, read: “the Jews did it”) were at it. Step forward, Tariq Ramadan, lecturer on contemporary Islamic issues at Oxford University and Muslim Brotherhood aristocrat — the grandson of Hassan al Banna, the Islamist group’s founder.


Opera: Dialogues des Carmelites

By Stephen Pollard, June 6, 2014

No operatic ending is more devastating, gripping and shocking than the final scene of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites. Condemned to death for their faith by the French revolutionary court, the nuns walk to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina.


Morally corrupt Belgium

By Stephen Pollard, June 6, 2014

It didn't take long. Within days of the Brussels murders, the conspiracy theorists (for which, read: "the Jews did it") were at it.


Opera review - Die Frau ohne Schatten (Royal Opera House): This Strauss in the House is as good as it gets

By Stephen Pollard, March 20, 2014

How’s this for a 20th-century plot? A supernatural Empress is married to a human Emperor who will be turned to stone if the Empress is not able to buy a shadow from a poor woman. And those are just the basic elements.
Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten is sometimes described as his response to The Magic Flute.


Don Giovanni Royal Opera House: A Don done with such impressive thought

By Stephen Pollard, February 7, 2014

Kasper Holten’s new production of Don Giovanni is unmissable. There’s not a scene that hasn’t been thoroughly thought through and not a character who hasn’t been dissected. That means a constantly rewarding intellectual challenge — such as the idea that, far from being helpless victims, Donna Anna and Zerlina are complicit in their dalliances with the Don.


Return of the Jewish native

By Stephen Pollard, December 24, 2013

They’re back.

One of the many privileges of editing the JC is that my postbag helps me to sniff out the various “on trend” and “so last season” themes doing the rounds.

For a while it seemed as if there was one group that had almost disappeared from view. But I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that they’re back.

The AsAJew has returned.


History through the wine glass

By Stephen Pollard, November 7, 2013

Château Chalon might be one of the most famous Jura wines but they are extremely difficult to get hold of. Thanks, however, to the Oracle Paradis Wine Fund’s tasting, organised to celebrate its purchase of a bottle of the 1781, I’ve now tasted five different vintages.