Jenni Frazer

Holy, holy, holy...

By Jenni Frazer, January 18, 2010

Back from a fast few days in Israel in which, as usual, I saw almost more people in half a week than I do in six months.
Vastly amused at the demographics of the Easyjet flight from Luton: we boarded in a snowstorm where the only people who looked appropriate were those dressed for 19th century Polish winters.



By Jenni Frazer, January 11, 2010

Tony Judt is a man whose name became a trigger for insta-hate in the revisionist nests of right-on Israel supporters. A British-born historian who had led a generally unremarked and probably blameless life in his New York University, Judt set the dovecotes aflutter in 2003 with a trenchantly argued article in the New York Review of Books which called for a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.


Medical matters

By Jenni Frazer, January 8, 2010

So there you are, nursing a sore ankle at Limmud, and a man with what may be the worst chat-up line in history offers to massage your back instead.
What do you do?
Apparently you don't reject him out of hand as an opportunist sleazeball.
No, you take a classified ad in the JC - with your phone number - and ask him to call you.
Good luck, girlfriend - in filtering out the loonies.


Cripplingly funny? Just crippling

By Jenni Frazer, January 7, 2010

Maybe you just have to be in the mood for it. Maybe it is not a good idea to discover a whimsical series four books down the line. Maybe I felt a bit short-changed that I did not find Ian Sansom’s writing “cripplingly funny” as did, evidently, a previous reviewer from the Independent.

Basically, I read through the 358 pages of cock-eyed Irish charm that comprise The Bad Book Affair (Fourth Estate, £7.99) desperately searching for a story.


It all went swimmingly

By Jenni Frazer, December 29, 2009

The week's best story is undoubtedly the man from Israel who has even succeeded in astonishing the Jerusalem Beth Din, to the point at which it went as far as issuing a press release.
This was the man who at just 50 years old has managed to get himself divorced 11 times. No, that is not a typo. He has become married and divorced eleven times and says he has no trouble in meeting new women. His lizard-like comment is that he "throws out the hook and the fish come swimming."


Refugee ship 'Exodus' captain dies

By Jenni Frazer, December 24, 2009

Ike Aranne, the captain of the iconic 1947 refugee ship Exodus, has died in Israel, aged 86.

Tributes have flowed in for the man born Yitzchak Aronovitz in Danzig, Poland. He came to pre-state Israel in 1933, aged 10.

The Exodus set sail at Aranne's initiative and Israel's president, Shimon Peres, described him as not only the ship's captain, but "its spirit, who gave the voyage a special character."


When in doubt

By Jenni Frazer, December 22, 2009

Ths morning everyone at work is full of their war stories of how they got home the night before. I once had a colleague who threatened to have a t-shirt printed with the slogan, "I won't tell you about my journey if you won't tell me about yours."
But I can't really resist telling about the heart-warming scene at Blooms in Golders Green last night. Regular readers of the JC will know that Blooms has had a bit of a hard time lately, having been thoroughly smacked by columnist Michael Freedland for its apparent present-day failure to live up to its illustrious past.


No opportunity lost

By Jenni Frazer, December 15, 2009

Today's Guardian letters page carries a letter of near-staggering annoyance. It is from a Diane Langford of Whitstable, complaining about the clue in December 12's Quick Crossword, "part of Israeli capital disputed by Palestinians." The answer that worked in the grid was "east Jerusalem", with which I admit I had some trouble because east Jerusalem, strictly speaking, is not disputed by Palestinians but claimed by them. I forgave the Quick Crossword compilers because they have limited room in which to boil down complicated concepts; but Ms Langford took the irritation to a new level.


Interview: The UK's new Jewish ambassador to Israel

By Jenni Frazer, December 10, 2009

Britain has appointed its first Jewish ambassador to Israel. And Matthew Gould, a high-flying Foreign Office diplomat, is optimistic that his posting — to begin in autumn 2010 — will send out a significant message, both to his hosts and the UK Jewish community.

Mr Gould, 38, is currently Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Two of his predecessors as PPS to the foreign secretary of the day, Simon McDonald and Sherard Cowper-Coles, also went on to become British ambassador to Israel, so there is an established precedent.


Review: Hello Goodbye

By Jenni Frazer, November 20, 2009

All the international star power of Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant cannot really rescue this thin comedy drama about the perils faced by a smart Parisian couple when they have a joint mid-life crisis which makes them move to Israel.

Alain Gaash ("with two 'a's") is a typical secular Parisian Jew, a well-respected gynaecologist with a gorgeous but apparently not very bright wife, Gisele, who converted to Judaism when the couple married 25 years before.(Quite how Alain, who was never circumcised, got to marry in shul, is not explained at this point.)


Oh, boy

By Jenni Frazer, November 19, 2009

If you wondered, even for a moment, about the near international condemnation of Israel's decision to build 900 new homes in the settlements, then ponder on the support given to the policy by none other than Sarah Palin.


Jewish war heroes get final salute at Rememberance Day

By Jenni Frazer, November 19, 2009

A swirl of scarlet and a skirl of the trumpet; a forest of military standards and a virtual garden of poppied wreaths, laid with great tenderness and solemnity at the Cenotaph. Pin-sharp creases in the uniforms, pin-sharp precision in the marching.


Only three, but violent already

By Jenni Frazer, November 13, 2009

An extraordinary story in today's papers of a three year old who may be about to come into up to £20,000 from you and me, the taxpayers.


With an outstretched hand

By Jenni Frazer, November 11, 2009

Unless my long ago cheder education was sadly wanting (which, I suppose, could be the case), I had always thought that the prohibition on men shaking hands with women applied only to women of child-bearing age. Apparently, for royalty one makes an exception.


Review: Adam Resurrected

By Jenni Frazer, November 11, 2009

Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum is not noted for his deep, insightful interpretations of a role. If anything, Goldblum usually plays Goldblum: a very tall, not unhandsome character actor with a whimsical smile and a predilection to get the girl.

In Adam Resurrected, however, Goldblum is a revelation. As the pre-war cabaret entertainer Adam Stein, the most famous clown in Germany, Goldblum startles and delights; and as the charismatic hero of an Israeli desert institution for mentally damaged Holocaust survivors, one simply cannot take one’s eyes off him.


Review: A Serious Man

By Jenni Frazer, November 9, 2009

The Coen Brothers' latest film, A Serious Man, is their most Jewish, definitely, and among their funniest, undoubtedly. Whether most audiences will understand it is another matter.
The first 15 minutes are, after all, entirely in Yiddish, set in a snowbound shtetl wherein a husband and wife may or may not be entertaining a dybbuk — the fantastically craggy-faced Fyvush Finkel.


Review: The Barmitzvah Boy

By Jenni Frazer, November 9, 2009

Adrienne Posta floated downstairs in her pink walkabout hairdryer mobcap, and it was as though the last 33 years had never existed.

To a collective sigh from the audience, Jack Rosenthal's iconic comedy drama, The Barmitzvah Boy, decorated the UK Jewish Film Festival's 13th year like a Black Forest Vacherin.


Wake up and smell the coffee

By Jenni Frazer, November 6, 2009

Well, boker tov al Yisrael, as they say in the vernacular. The Jewish community has finally woken up and has confronted the government for its weaselly behaviour over the UN and the Goldstone Report.
Two weeks ago in Geneva Her Majesty's representative sat kicking his undoubtedly well-shod heels as he waited... and waited... and waited for instructions from the British government as to what he should do in the vote regarding the Goldstone Report.
Let us be kind and call this the cock-up result rather than conspiracy: the instructions never came, the British never voted at all.


Review: A Matter of Size

By Jenni Frazer, November 3, 2009

For an audience with a ... shall we say, overt appreciation of food and drink, the UK Jewish Film Festival's opening gala film, A Matter of Size, had a certain frisson.

This gentle Israeli comedy is the story of the doleful Herzl, fat since childhood and desperately putting himself through an endless series of dietary hoops in the grim working-class Israeli town of Ramle.


Parallel lives

By Jenni Frazer, November 2, 2009

Anyone who is in any doubt about the idiocy of some of the Israeli government's choices might care to cast a horrified look at the BNP's latest website entry.