Jenni Frazer

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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 .


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.


Oh, brother: Documenting the rise of the Emanuels

By Jenni Frazer, July 18, 2013

Zeke Emanuel was the target of bilious commentary by British TV presenters over his participation in a 1981 reality show, Now Get Out of That. An early precursor of the Survivor programmes, the show featured students in an Oxford versus Cambridge challenge performing a variety of physical and mental tasks.


German jazz band Weintraub Syncopators played way to safety

By Jenni Frazer, June 14, 2013

“In memory,” read the dedication, “of the German jazz band, The Weintraub Syncopators, Berlin 1924-Sydney 1942: Stefan Weintraub, Heinz Barger, Addy Fisher, Emanuel Fisher, Horst Graff, John Kaiser, Cyril Schulvater, Leo Weiss”.

Since the dedication was in a concert programme for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, there was a natural curiosity: who were the Weintraub Syncopators?


Dead Man’s Time

By Jenni Frazer, June 13, 2013

Nine books in to his Detective Roy Grace series set in the mean streets of Brighton, and best-selling crime writer Peter James's trade-mark inventiveness shows no signs of flagging - except, and I am sorry to say so, in what appears to be an irrelevant sub-plot about Superintendent Grace's former wife, Sandy.


Israel Philharmonic sounds wonderful in its renovated home

By Jenni Frazer, June 7, 2013

"We did this for ourselves,” says the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s legendary music director for life, Zubin Mehta, sitting on the stage of the newly renovated concert hall of the IPO. “But we [also] did it for the public.


Pro-Israel activist's case against UCU fails

By Jenni Frazer, March 28, 2013

A blistering rejection of pro-Israel activist Ronnie Fraser's case against the academic union, UCU, was published on Seder night by a London employment tribunal.

In a 49-page ruling, the Employment Judge, AM Snelson, sitting with Mr A Grant and Lady Sedley, rejected Mr Fraser's claims of unlawful harassment by the UCU, and dismissed the entire proceedings.


Desert Island castaway helps out Glasgow Girls

By Jenni Frazer, March 25, 2013

Desert Island Discs’ castaways normally get just eight records to take to their mythical island in the sun.

But the lucky — or greedy — television and film producer, Steve Morrison, managed to play 12 iconic tracks at a fundraising evening held by the charity, Glasgow Girls in London.


New York comes to Scandinavia

By Jenni Frazer, March 14, 2013

Boston-born Derek B Miller is a senior fellow with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, with a slew of security-based academic degrees behind him. It is an unlikely background for the writer of one of the best novels of the year, the majestic Norwegian by Night, starring the magnetic, 82-year-old hero, Sheldon Horowitz.