Alex Kasriel

Getting our spiritual fix

By Alex Kasriel, September 17, 2009

If the thought of sitting in synagogue for hours on end this New Year leaves you cold, take inspiration from others who are searching for a spiritual experience in the days ahead.

Some are finding ways to connect with the synagogue service, while others are abandoning the traditional place of worship altogether to pray in alternative groups.

Indeed, many Jews in this country are looking for more than just an excuse to get together with the family and indulge in honey cake over the chagim.


Why I gave up my job to become a rabbi

By Alex Kasriel, September 9, 2009

● Ariel Friedlander, 45, grew up in Wembley and west London, where her father Rabbi Albert Friedlander was rabbi at Westminster Synagogue. She used to work as a sports photographer before training to be a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in New York. She has since worked in Toronto, Virginia and New York.


Children with biblical names are saintly

By Alex Kasriel, September 9, 2009
If your name is Benjamin, Adam, Daniel, Rebecca or Hannah you are likely to be teacher's pet.

According to a new survey by, teachers judge children's behaviour the moment they glance at the register. And Crystal, Demi, Jack and Brooklyn are deemed badly behaved according 3,000 teachers questioned for the research.

Meanwhile a child with a more more solid, traditional name like Charlotte, Elizabeth, Alexander and the ones mentioned above, is more likely to arrive on time, sit nicely and do his or her homework.


Why do Jewish women excel at documentary-making?

By Alex Kasriel, September 3, 2009

There is a new generation of British female film-makers making waves on UK TV — and many of them happen to be Jewish.

Over the past couple of years, these 30-something women have been busy making documentary films for Channel Four and the BBC on everything from fraudsters to Motown artists.


Tuning up to be Brit pop's next big thing

By Alex Kasriel, July 23, 2009

Standing prettily centre stage in a prom dress, fresh make-up and strumming on a ukulele, she is reminiscent of June Carter in Walk The Line. Like Carter, Tamara Schlesinger’s music has a country feel. But her band’s sound is more modern, containing influences from klezmer and calypso to Afro and Latin music.


Big bad secrets of an entertainer

By Alex Kasriel, July 23, 2009

He is the fake-tanned, cigar smoking, jewellery wearing, spoof supper club entertainer, played by comedian Steve Furst. Here, Lenny Beige gives an exclusive interview to the JC, lifting the lid on his greatest influences, his leisure time and his dark family secrets, ahead of his monthly residency at the Pigalle Club.

l Tell us about your monthly show at the Pigalle


It’s crunch time

By Alex Kasriel, July 23, 2009

Diced cucumber, tomatoes and peppers — the ingredients that conjure up the classic Israeli salad. And if anywhere is known for its love of munching on raw vegetables, it is Israel. Tel Aviv’s cafes serve up huge bowls of lettuce accompanied by cheese, fish or pulses, and the kibbutzim across the country have always provided a fully stocked salad bar in their dining rooms.

And while the rest of the world may enjoy cereals and toast in the morning, Israelis opt for a melange of raw vegetables for breakfast — with the obligatory cottage cheese.


Interview: Ayelet Waldman

By Alex Kasriel, July 16, 2009

It feels as if mothers can never get it right. They are branded either over-protective or too liberal by online forums and mothering websites like mumsnet. They are criticised for allowing their babies to eat and sleep “on demand”, or for implementing too rigorous a schedule. They are considered monsters for advocating “controlled crying” or regarded as too lax for cuddling their baby the minute the little mite starts to whimper.


Can you handle NYC's Hebrew hip-hop poet?

By Alex Kasriel, July 16, 2009

Offend Vanessa Hidary on a date and you run the risk of a scathing verbal attack — in the form of a witty, fast-paced poem.

In her 2003 poem, Hebrew Mamita, Hidary describes how a hapless suitor remarked that she did not “look Jewish”. At the time she said nothing, but later she realised the remark was supposed to be a compliment.


Fly your children to cloud nine this holiday

By Alex Kasriel, July 9, 2009


Bear Hunt
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, The classic poem by former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, is effectively adapted for the stage with songs and sound effects.

July 8 to 16, Duchess Theatre
0870 124 9127
Tickets from £17.50

Tweenies Live: Top of the Tots
The acid-coloured life-size puppets from the BBC TV show, are firm favourites with the under-fives, and their all singing/all dancing show has become a summer staple.

July 18 to 20, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh


The biggest sins of spin

By Alex Kasriel, July 2, 2009

When it comes to political spin, the Israelis have a lot to learn from the Palestinians.

This is the view of marketing expert Jonathan Gabay, who has spent 30 years in advertising and whose new book, Soul Traders, looks at the impact of propaganda on popular culture.


Love blossoms on the Hebrew ward

By Alex Kasriel, June 25, 2009

This week’s episode of Casualty 1909 — the BBC’s medical drama set in The London Hospital 100 years ago — focuses on the Jewish patients.

Recently arrived Eastern European immigrants and more assimilated Cockney Jews muck in together in the hospital’s male “Hebrew ward”, where, separated from other patients (at their request), they can talk Yiddish, eat kosher and pray together.


Ban the burkha? That can't be fair

By Alex Kasriel, June 24, 2009

While I am not in favour of women being made to wear restrictive, all enveloping clothing that covers their faces I can't say I agree with Nicholas Sarkozy and his desire to ban the burkha.

In a free society men and women should be able to choose whatever they want to wear however bonkers or impractical that might be.

If he argues that the item was thought up by men as a way to opress women, banning it won't change men's attitude. And if the burkha means women are allowed to leave the house at all - then it must be a good thing.


Salmon Special: Slice of life learned from master carver

By Alex Kasriel, June 18, 2009

Ever wondered why Jewish-style lox tastes better than Scottish smoked salmon? Len Lawson has the answer — and the 87-year-old should know, as he has been cutting salmon for almost 30 years.

Mr Lawson attributes the delicate flavour of heimishe lox to its wafer-thin slicing. Because of this, the fat rapidly melts in the mouth and the flavour is let loose before chewing.


Miley no longer with Jewish beau? Boo!

By Alex Kasriel, June 12, 2009

Last week we reported that teen sensation Miley Cyrus was dating a certain Jewish actor, Gregg Sulkin.

But it looks like the Hannah Montanna star has already found another nubile English star to text, email and Twitter with.

According to reports British singer Steve Rushton, who appeared as the lead guitarist in Miley's band in the Disney film of Hannah Montana is her new boyfriend.


How to argue Israel’s case: lessons from a media guru

By Alex Kasriel, June 11, 2009

A spokesman for Israel is staring into a television camera answering questions about why the country acts in a disproportionate manner in its treatment of Palestinians.


Off the ladder and down to business

By Alex Kasriel, June 4, 2009

Kim Schwartz
Was: Lawyer
Now: Tango teacher

Kim Schwartz, 33, worked as a corporate solicitor at international firm Norton Rose for four-and-half-years before she took a career break in Argentina to pursue her interest in tango. She returned three years later as a professional dancer and co-founded Tango Movement, a dance school and company, with her business partner David Benitez.


The oddest tribe in Judaism?

By Alex Kasriel, June 4, 2009

A ponytailed Filipino man in jeans is swinging his narrow hips as he pushes an elderly, Orthodox rabbi in a wheelchair. They arrive at a synagogue and while the rabbi discusses the Talmud with similarly aged and bearded clerics, his Asian carer sits to one side, singing along to Abba’s The Winner Takes It All on his personal stereo.

As culture clashes go, it is a fairly strange one. But what makes it even stranger is that the Filipino, Chiqui Diokno, is a drag artist in his spare time.


Laura Pulver’s making Robin a merry man

By Alex Kasriel, June 3, 2009

Fans of the BBC tea-time drama Robin Hood will have been keenly watching the new series as fresh female villain Isabella, sister to the evil Sir Guy of Gisborne, came crashing in to the medieval romp as Robin’s latest love interest.


The lesson? Don't go live in Dubai

By Alex Kasriel, June 2, 2009

A British pair living in Dubai have been given a two month jail sentence after committing adultery.

Sally Antia's husband Vince tipped off police that she was having an affair with Mark Hawkins.