Jenni Frazer

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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Time on their hands

By Jenni Frazer, October 23, 2009

This morning on BBC Radio 4's Today programme we had the twice-yearly ritual of someone ranting about the prospect of putting the clocks back (which will happen this weekend.)
Sir Alastair Horne was being entertainingly rude about the benefits this accrued to Scottish farmers and schoolchildren. Statistics, he claimed, showed that far from being run over in the dark mornings, Scots schoolchildren tended to have road accidents in the afternoon. So that's all right, then.

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Repulsive

By Jenni Frazer, October 23, 2009

So that's it. The unthinkable has happened - and the world did not end.
Yes, sadly and horribly, Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, did appear on the BBC's Question Time. The morning papers' consensus appears to be that Griffin was given a thorough going-over by the rest of the panel and came out of the event rather badly.

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Truths and mirrors

By Jenni Frazer, October 19, 2009

"I'm unambiguously hostile to Israel because it's a mendacious state." Thus, according to the writer Anne McElvoy, is the position of the editor of the London Review of Books, Mary-Kay Wilmers.

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Screen burn

By Jenni Frazer, October 19, 2009

Some time in the last century when I was studying English, there was something called exegesis; this was explained to me as the difficulty of separating the writer from his or her work, or the actor from his or her political opinions.
So it came as a terrible shock to me to discover that political beliefs with which I did not agree, were in fact cherished opinions by actors or artists whose work I liked.

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Viva Tel Aviv, a city of endless reinvention

By Jenni Frazer, October 15, 2009

It’s midnight outside the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and the place is humming. The last cinema-goers have left but the open courtyard in front is suddenly a mass of wheels — bicycles and trollies, but most of all rollerskates.

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Deep thought

By Jenni Frazer, October 12, 2009

London's Evening Standard is turning itself into a pretzel trying to persuade its readers that becoming a free-sheet is a good thing.
In a slightly desperate page 2 panel today, its first free day, a variety of public figures are asked what free things in life they love the most.
Nigella Lawson's contribution is awesome. "Free speech, free time, free Evening Standard. Fabulous."
Goodness. I am fanning myself. She must have spent, ooh, at least five whole seconds thinking that up. And they say an Oxford education is never wasted.

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Life lesson

By Jenni Frazer, October 6, 2009

Just back from Israel where it's always entertaining to watch the local fashion trends rise and fall like the wind. Currently almost every woman you see has long hair, whether it suits her or not: this leads to a slight outbreak of 1669 syndrome — those who look 16 from behind and turn out to be 69 when you see their faces.

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Hallelujah! Leonard Cohen’s Israeli triumph

By Jenni Frazer, October 1, 2009

When Leonard Cohen drew back from the stage slightly at the end of his marathon three-and-a-half-hour set in Ramat Gan, and recited the Birkat Cohanim — the blessing of the priests — complete with outstretched arms of benediction, there was a collective sigh from the enraptured crowd.

It was a sign that Israel’s often battered sense of itself still had a moral basis. Here, after all, was one of our own, come back in triumph.

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