Jenni Frazer

Norman Lebrecht: Musical history is a voyage of discovery

By Jenni Frazer, March 6, 2014

The BBC gave me one piece of advice,” reveals writer and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht, laughing. “They said: ‘We aren’t going to do this again for a generation. So make it comprehensive.’” For the next three Sundays on Radio 3, Lebrecht is fronting a series on Music and the Jews.

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Book week: brain food… and food

By Jenni Frazer, February 27, 2014

Jewish Book Week opened with a bang on Sunday. Well, actually, with a flash.

At the instigation of Gefiltefest founder Michael Leventhal, JBW saw its first flashmob — 40 participants took to the stairs and balconies of Kings Place, the venue for the nine-day events, to sing and play spontaneous music from Fiddler on the Roof, to the delight of Sunday’s crowds.

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Man who diagnosed the Israeli condition

By Jenni Frazer, February 27, 2014

He is a man of contradictions, Ari Shavit. A veteran of the peace camp in Israel who sees huge deficiencies in the Oslo Accords and who wholeheartedly endorses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni in their insistence that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

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Now for the real news on Israeli TV station i24News...

By Jenni Frazer, February 20, 2014

Frank Melloul is a dapper Frenchman who oozes affability, as befits his former role as a diplomat, advising presidents and prime ministers.

Lucy Aharish is model-thin, with chocolate-brown eyes and artfully disarranged hair, a persuasive manner and machine-gun speed conversation.

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Ambassador to mark anniversary of scroll rescue

By Jenni Frazer, February 6, 2014

The Czech ambassador to the UK Michael Zantovsky will join senior rabbis from the Reform and Masorti movements at a ceremony this weekend commemorating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of hundreds of Holocaust-era Czech Sifrei Torah to Britain.

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Arik, the fruit and vegetable market and the sheepskin coat

By Jenni Frazer, January 16, 2014

It was January 1980 and Ariel Sharon was Israel’s agriculture minister, making a flying visit to the UK to meet some of his adoring supporters in British Herut.

But Sharon’s keynote event was a prolonged tour around the New Covent Garden fruit and vegetables market, stopping to speak to stallholder after stallholder who were stocking Israeli produce.

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Making a worldwide drama out of Israel TV

By Jenni Frazer, January 16, 2014

It is just over 20 years since, armed with a degree in film and television studies from Tel Aviv University, a fresh-faced Alon Aranya landed in California, determined to make his mark. Many other young Israelis followed the same path, but for Aranya it really paid off.

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Will Self, Neil Gaiman and the return of Uncle

By Jenni Frazer, January 13, 2014

If I wanted to be cute, I could call this piece The Elephant and the Jewish Problem, except that while there is indeed an elephant, there is as yet no discernible Jewish problem. And, I have to confess, neither is the Jewish presence exactly Jumbo sized.

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The dark side of Disney

By Jenni Frazer, January 10, 2014

Anyone who has been to the cinema in the last week or so may have been intrigued by a trailer for the forthcoming film, Saving Mr Banks. The film stars the oh-so-wholesome Tom Hanks and his almost equally fragrant counterpart, Emma Thompson, but the subject matter is somewhat dark.

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Yad Vashem must tell a story about life, not just death

By Jenni Frazer, December 24, 2013

I am standing in front of a towering, thick-cream coloured rock face, on which are carved the names of hundreds of pre-war Jewish communities.

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Leonard Bernstein's daughter recalls a man of letters

By Jenni Frazer, December 5, 2013

It’s 13 years since the death of the multi-talented composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein. But recent events have kept Bernstein’s prodigious talents in the public eye.

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My ambition? To remake The Odd Couple, reveals Kevin Spacey

By Jenni Frazer, November 28, 2013

“So,” drawled Alan Yentob, “a roomful of Jews, is it?”

He was right — nearly 300 film and theatre fans gathered on Monday night to see Mr Yentob, the BBC’s creative director, in conversation with the Hollywood star Kevin Spacey.

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Why crime pays for thriller writer Scott Turow

By Jenni Frazer, November 21, 2013

"The Holocaust hovered over the neighbourhood in which I grew up — and it never left me.” Such a sentiment is surprising coming from the doyen of legal crime thriller writers, Scott Turow.

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It’s all history: Isaacs looks back fondly on broadcasting landmark

By Jenni Frazer, October 17, 2013

Few of us can claim the gift of prophecy and even the doyen of television grandees, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, would be reluctant to cast himself as someone who could see into the future.

Forty years ago, however, the young Isaacs had a vision of how television documentaries should be presented.

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Schama completes his tour de force

By Jenni Frazer, October 7, 2013

The Story of the Jews
(BBC 2)

Sunday nights will scarcely be the same now Simon Schama’s lavish and exuberant roller-coaster of a ride through Jewish history — the best-known bits and the almost-never-told stuff — has concluded its five-week run.

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Novel twist from an ex-Mossad man

By Jenni Frazer, October 3, 2013

Spy thrillers are always suspect, aren’t they? Either the writer is boasting about his or her expertise, or they tip over from the preposterous into parody. Not so with the thrillers of Mishka Ben-David, the first of which, Duet in Beirut, is published in English for the first time this month. For 12 years Ben-David was a Mossad operative — and it shows.

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Eden blooms at JW3 opening

By Jenni Frazer, October 3, 2013

The gates did not open until 10.30 but long before that there was a queue — well, a Jewish queue, in which almost every other person had a pressing reason why he or she should not really need to be in the queue at all.

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Simon Schama Interview

By Jenni Frazer, September 6, 2013

Three random facts about historian Simon Schama, professor of art history and history at New York’s Columbia University: he once worked, half a century ago, in the JC’s library when he was a teenager, describing the experience as something like the Hapsburg Empire, a mixture of order and chaos.

In 1995, he told a JC interviewer: “I find it very hard to write about Jewish history.”

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Making a history of UK Jews for the BBC was so daunting, reveals Simon Schama

By Jenni Frazer, August 28, 2013

The historian Simon Schama, writer and presenter of an ambitious five-part BBC series, The Story of the Jews, has admitted he was "daunted" by the immensity of the project .

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Am I OK? Don't ask

By Jenni Frazer, August 16, 2013

Dear Person Whom I Have Never Met Before and Whom I Don’t Know From A Hole In The Wall: I hope you’re well.

Actually, in the event that I am writing this email on a Friday, I hope you have a lovely weekend. If I’m writing this on a Monday, well, I also hope you had a lovely weekend.

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