Gerald Jacobs

Book Week - electrifying, but please not electronic

By Gerald Jacobs, March 1, 2012

Will there come a time when the only readily available copies of new books, including all prayer books and even the Bible, will be electronic? Are the People of the Book destined to become the People of the eBook?

For many twitterati and "kindlelach", this is a cyber consummation devoutly to be wished - certainly outside the liturgical sphere.

More..

The man still seeking justice a century after the Dreyfus Affair

By Gerald Jacobs, January 20, 2012

Writer, composer, art expert, educationist - George Whyte modestly concedes, when it is put to him, that he is a man of many parts, and adds: "All of them Jewish".

More..

Farewell to 2011, a year of farewells

By Gerald Jacobs, December 29, 2011

It's that time again, the candle-maker's moment, when rival faiths strike festive lights to ward off winter. When an assemblage of "old" dates in the diary gives way to a fresh "new year". A secular, inverted Yom Kippur, a stocktaking accompanied by feasting instead of fasting, replenishing rather than repentance.

On this occasion, though, for me it carries some weight.

More..

American literary heavyweights produce radical new haggadah

By Gerald Jacobs, December 16, 2011

A great many Seder tables next Pesach could feature an imaginative presentation of the Passover story in the form of the New American Haggadah, which will be published in the UK in February.

More..

Football's foul play is a big problem

By Gerald Jacobs, November 24, 2011

It hardly needs stating in a Jewish newspaper that racism is one of the most odious aspects of so-called civilised society. And perhaps the saddest of racism's manifestations is that which occurs within sport - the activity devoted to harnessing human aggression to the concept of fair play.

Of course, racism in sport does not exist in isolation.

More..

Artists shouldn't be passengers when it comes to the Holocaust

By Gerald Jacobs, November 14, 2011

In recent weeks, the JC has published three columns about Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger, which has just finished its run at the English National Opera. Each of the writers was exercised by the fact that Weinberg's opera is set in Auschwitz.

More..

They call it body art but I find it tatty

By Gerald Jacobs, November 11, 2011

While, to the best of my knowledge, no Jew was involved in the rioting and looting that blighted our streets and our screens last month, it seems that police inquiries may have been directed at one or two Jewish households in connection with the destination of some looted items.

More..

Interview: Barbara Taylor Bradford

By Gerald Jacobs, September 15, 2011

Three pm at the Dorchester. Outside, the afternoon sun burns flesh and metal the length and breadth of Park Lane. Inside, secretive businessmen and earnest tourists nibble pastries and crust-free sandwiches.

Seated at a table in the centre of the room is a comfortably elegant, blonde woman.

More..

Israeli author wins prestigious Jewish literary award

By Gerald Jacobs, June 10, 2011

Israeli novelist David Grossman has won the 2011 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, the UK's foremost Jewish literature award. Early this week, a packed audience in the Stern Pissarro Gallery, off Pall Mall, heard writer Lisa Appignanesi, this year's chair of the JQ-Wingate judges, announce the result of the most eagerly awaited contest for many years.

More..

Why the Y word is my word

By Gerald Jacobs, April 22, 2011

A couple of rows in front of where I am sitting, a large man has leapt to his feet. His entire body is quivering with rage. I expect him to lose his voice at any moment. On the surface, he seems an affable, suburban type, a family man with children whom he has quite possibly reprimanded for outbursts far milder than the poisonous invective currently issuing from his own mouth.

More..

Review: The Holy Rosenbergs

By Gerald Jacobs, March 18, 2011

Just when you might be recovering from the surfeit of Jews-under-the-microscope drama that has been served up on stage and screen over the past couple of years, along comes Ryan Craig with The Holy Rosenbergs. At the National Theatre - noch, as one of his characters would doubtless say.

More..

Cozy Landmark get-away you can trust

By Gerald Jacobs, December 9, 2010

Is there anywhere in England more beautiful than the Cotswolds? And is there anywhere more Cotswoldish than Chipping Campden? Its very name has an irresistibly bucolic ring, evoking images of milkmaids and swains, village greens, and pubs serving foaming tankards of ale. And, while it can be relished for its own sake, Chipping Campden is encircled by such radiant villages as Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Shipston-on-Stour, not to mention such splendid, historic towns as Evesham, Cheltenham and Stratford-on-Avon.

More..

A victory we can take pride in

By Gerald Jacobs, October 14, 2010

Is it good for the Jews? You bet. Howard Jacobson's triumph at the Man Booker awards this week should reassure those among us who have sensed of late a frisson directed towards Jews and things Jewish from the British cultural establishment.

More..

Shouldn't rabbis be serious, for Pete's sake?

By Gerald Jacobs, September 28, 2010

The late, great comedy partners Peter Cook and Dudley Moore once performed a sketch on BBC TV in which the letter R had fallen off a sign, causing Cook in his "Pete" persona to remark on how very unfortunate it is if you "let your Rs fall off".

More..

Interview: Howard Jacobson

By Gerald Jacobs, August 4, 2010

It is a sunny morning in Soho. On the hotel terrace where Howard Jacobson is eloquently considering what it means to be a Jew, the clinking of coffee cups and the odd Yiddish imprecation mingle with the sights and sounds of London’s most cosmopolitan strip of earth.

Thematically and literally, this is familiar territory. Many have been the discussions with this most articulate of writers trying to identify the elusive essentials of being Jewish. And, however much this feels like putting up a tent in a hurricane, it is always stimulating, always fruitful.

More..

Now let's have a Jewish coalition

By Gerald Jacobs, May 21, 2010

Belatedly, I have caught election fever. Before the vote and its consequences, I was completely immune, resisting the blandishments of smug and evasive politicians and wishing plagues on all their houses. The televised debates that so excited the nation only confirmed my conviction that modern life is a form of reality TV and that we are all extras in a latter-day Truman Show. (The word "reality" is of course a misnomer.

More..

Interview: Leslie Caron

By Gerald Jacobs, November 5, 2009

In September 1965, Leslie Caron flew from Hollywood — where she was living in extravagant style with her then lover Warren Beatty — to her home-town of Paris to play a French Resistance fighter in René Clément’s film, Is Paris Burning?

More..

Review: The Communal Gadfly

By Gerald Jacobs, October 28, 2009

By Geoffrey Alderman
Academic Studies Press, £29.50

History professor Geoffrey Alderman has, since March 2002, been the sitting tenant on what might be called Opinion Island, set as it is within a sea of opinions. As the JC’s resident weekly columnist, not only does he share space with such blood-stirring names as Aaronovitch and Finkelstein, Freedland and Phillips, but he also directs his views at a readership never too shy to offer its own thoughts, as can be seen in the Letters to the Editor, which also abut his column.

More..

The woman who’s proving intelligent books can sell

By Gerald Jacobs, August 13, 2009

One of London’s leading literary agents recently suggested that, “intelligent, well-written fiction is in a state of crisis”. The big publishing conglomerates are not interested so much in the state of the culture as in what they perceive to be the state of the market. And what they perceive is that “pulp” sells and “literary fiction” — in which emotions and ideas are imaginatively conveyed in well-constructed sentences — does not.

More..

Interview: Chloe Aridjis

By Gerald Jacobs, July 23, 2009

One day in 1986, Chloe Aridjis was wandering through the food section of the grand KaDeWe department store in Berlin when she was overcome by a wave of disgust. “There were huge fish and lobster tanks; all kinds of meats and animal parts dangling from the walls,” the writer now recalls. “The previous year in Seville my sister and I passed a restaurant with a suckling pig in the window, an apple in its mouth. My sister became a vegetarian that night. I’m ashamed to say it took me a year to follow.”

More..