Alex Kasriel

‘Bagels can change your perspective on history’

By Alex Kasriel, December 18, 2008

There are few people in this world — coeliacs excepted — who do not enjoy a bagel with cream cheese and a slice of smoked salmon. But one woman’s love of the roll with the hole became so all-consuming that she wrote a book about its history.

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Tales from the hidden celeb Soho

By Alex Kasriel, December 11, 2008

To London’s glitterati he is known as the “Prince of Soho”, friend and confidante of celebrities and media types. But to London’s underworld fraternity he is known as something rather different: the boy who witnessed his father being gunned down in a gangland shooting.

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Interview: Lisa Kron

By Alex Kasriel, December 11, 2008

Have you ever suspected that the relatives you know who suffer from chronic illnesses like allergies, back pain, or ME, actually have a choice about whether or not they get better?

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The Baron Cohen trying to make Chanucah cool

By Alex Kasriel, December 4, 2008

If the droning nursery rhymes sung every year at Chanucah make you want to scorch yourself with the menorah, the alternative range of songs on a new album by Sacha Baron Cohen’s older brother might save you from third-degree burns.

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Dani Behr out of I’m a Celebrity…

By Alex Kasriel, November 28, 2008

Dani Behr has been given her marching orders from ITV'1's all-star jungle challenge I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

The 34-year-old ex-TV presenter from North London was evicted from the reality show on Thursday after coming last in the viewers' vote.

She said: “I can't wait to see my babies, it's been very hard emotionally. I'm surprised I coped with the living conditions. I'm used to comfortable sheets and a nice bathroom. But it's amazing what you get used to living without. The worst part was the boredom, sitting around doing nothing."

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My dream jungle rumble — momma vs beck

By Alex Kasriel, November 27, 2008

Have you heard the one about the two Jews struggling for survival in the jungle? No? Well, they are called Esther Rantzen and Dani Behr, and they are going head to head in the ITV1's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

The first is an archetypal Jewish mother figure who has been gracing our screens with her sympathetic ear and no-nonsense advice since wide ties and perms were in fashion. The second is the original TV beck, the girl who convinced thousands of her North London sisters that flicky hair and slightly large noses were cool.

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Interview: Jerry Schatzberg

By Alex Kasriel, November 27, 2008

He was an ordinary boy from the Bronx, hailing from a family of Jewish furriers, but thanks to his talent as a photographer and film director, Jerry Schatzberg became friends with some of the biggest stars of music and cinema. In a career that has spanned five decades, Schatzberg has worked and socialised with Keith Richards, Al Pacino and Jimi Hendrix among others. He was even romantically linked with Hollywood actress Faye Dunaway in 1966 - the equivalent of dating Keira Knightley today. He later cast her in his Golden Globe-nominated movie, Puzzle of a Downfall Child.

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The best places to eat vegetarian

By Alex Kasriel, November 20, 2008

November is a big month for veggies with the Vegetarian Society announcing the winners of its best independent restaurant competition. Honours went to The Dandelion & Burdock in Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire, and Middlesborough's Waiting Room, but there are a host of veggie eateries serving up exciting dishes, imaginatively presented. They are ideal for the kosher diner ready to try an alternative to traditional haimishe restaurants.

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Why the artist made Kate Moss look ugly

By Alex Kasriel, November 20, 2008

She paints bold, arresting, images of models and pop singers such as Kate Moss, Agnes Deyn and MIA. And all her subjects share the same sunken eyes, emaciated frames and vacuous expressions.

But New York artist Katherine Bernhardt insists she is not trying to make a social comment of the materialistic world of popular culture.

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Kapoor to rock Brighton

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

The Brighton Festival has appointed Indian-Jewish sculptor Anish Kapoor to the newly created role of guest artistic director. The Mumbai-born 54-year-old Turner Prize winner, who will take up his job in May, says, of course, that he feels honoured. "The city will provide a unique backdrop for my work and the inspiration for many new events and ideas." Given the sculptor's affection for curved shapes, the owners of Brighton's pier might be slightly worried.

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The Blair scare project

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

In a major case of ‘doh!', Tony Blair's bodyguard accidentally fired his handgun at Ben-Gurion International Airport. It is thought he was unloading the weapon outside the terminal building when it went off. No one was hurt but airport security and police rushed to the scene. It's not the first time Middle East peace envoy Blair has unwittingly alarmed Israeli authorities. In May, Israeli fighter jets scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft suspected to be hostile, only to find out that it carried the former PM.

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Ivanka’s ours now

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

The daughter of property tycoon Donald Trump is converting to Judaism. Ivanka Trump, 27, who is engaged to Jewish businessman Jared Kushner, is attending Orthodox synagogue Kehilat Jeshurun in Manhattan's East Side. The former model, who now helps to run her father's business, is hoping to marry next year - and Mr Trump will have a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. Welcome to the fold, Donald.

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Oh yes, we get offended

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

In its latest issue, secularist magazine The New Humanist searches for the world's best religion in a game of "God Trumps". Judaism gets eight out of 10 for follower dedication - "no bacon sandwiches ever," the magazine observes, "that's dedication" - but also eight out of 10 for its "daffiest doctrine", niddah. The magazine reckons that Jews are "not really" given to having broigeses, getting just five out of 10 in the "easily offended" category. They don't know us very well, do they?

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The messiah and his seven wives

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

He lives in East Sussex and trains race horses, which is not the most likely occupation for a middle-aged Jewish man. But that is the least odd thing about Philip Sharp, who for the past 10 years has been living with his seven "wives" and considers himself a Jewish patriarch.

The wives - who are not married to him by law but have all changed their surnames to Sharp by deed poll - are aged between 29 and 64 and have given him nine children to add another five from a former, convectional, marriage.

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Portillo: My Friend’s Suicide

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

DEATH OF A SCHOOLBOY
BBC 4, Friday November 7

BITTERNESS: THE ESSAY, EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPES
Radio 4, Thursday November 13

CELEBRITY COME DINE WITH ME
Channel 4, Thursday November 13

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Seventy years on, Kristallnacht still haunts me

By Alex Kasriel, November 6, 2008

Harry Bibring was a 12-year-old boy living in Vienna when he was caught up in the horrific events of Kristallnacht. Now 82, and living in London, having come to Britain on the Kindertransport, he recalls what happened to him and his family 70 years ago:

"We were living in a flat in the 6th district, which is not the main Jewish area of Vienna - it wasn't the equivalent of Golders Green or Stamford Hill, but probably something like West Hampstead. I lived there with my sister Gertie who was 15 and my parents. I was about to celebrate my barmitzvah.

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Rabbi Silverman: The truth about my sister Sarah

By Alex Kasriel, October 30, 2008

One is a foul-mouthed comedian living in LA, the other is a liberal female rabbi living on a kibbutz in the Negev. But actually, Sarah Silverman and her sister, Susan, are not so different.

The US Emmy-winning performer, famous for her controversial gags including a career-defining YouTube pop video in which she claims to be sleeping with actor Matt Damon, is known for her liberal views - as is her older sister. Both siblings hope their work will help to change society for the better.

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Review: The 9 o’clock shmooze

By Alex Kasriel, October 23, 2008

New End Theatre, London NW3

There is a sense of quiet anxiety involved in going to Jewish-themed live comedy acts. You cannot help but worry: "Will the material ring true, or be excruciatingly wide of the mark? Will the Jewish audience-members be offended? Will the non-Jewish members be confused? Will the performer feel let down if the Jews do not laugh? Will there be time to eat?"

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Los Desterrados: My rock ’n’ roll moment

By Alex Kasriel, October 17, 2008

Ever since Kate Moss was caught on camera snorting cocaine in a West London recording studio, the world has been guessing what other antics rock'n'roll stars get up to in these music recording venues.
So when Ladino band Los Desterrados invited me to watch them record their third album, Miradores, I jumped at the chance.

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Recession? Who cares?

By Alex Kasriel, October 7, 2008

While the world mourns the plunging stock exchange, I am secretly loving this so-called recession. No offence to anyone who pays me, but I don’t get much money for what I do…. and now everyone has been brought down to my level.

Before, I struggled to keep up with my friends who work in the corporate industry buying drinks and handbags and taking taxis. Now it’s OK to seriously hold back your spending justifying it by using the catchy words, ‘credit’ and ‘crunch’.

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