A rabbi walked into a bar….for his comedy debut

Rabbi Mendy Korer will be taking to the stage later this month


Rabbi Mendy Korer is making his stand-up debut later this month (Photo: Chabad Islington)

The Orthodox rabbi at the helm of the only Jewish institution in Islington is gearing up to make his stand-up comedy debut to help raise funds for the synagogue’s own permanent Torah scroll.

“It’s not much different to doing a story-telling joke on the pulpit,” said Rabbi Mendy Korer of Chabad Islington. “Maybe I'm not quite sure what I've gotten myself into, but it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be entertaining and it’s for a good cause.”

The event, aptly titled “A Rabbi Walked into a Bar,” will see Rabbi Mendy showcase the comedic timing and delivery he said he has built up through his rabbinical experience.

“You’ve got a crowd of people, and it could be a rabbi, it could be a comedian or it could be a trapeze artist in a circus — essentially you are entertaining a group of people and you’re taking them through an experience,” said Rabbi Mendy.

Chabad Islington has previously hosted two stand-up performances to fundraise for the Torah scroll, and Rabbi Mendy played the role of MC at the first show in March last year. Fundraising event organiser Judy Ramjeet said that when the rabbi stepped up to the mic, “people’s jaws dropped open”.

“His sense of comedic timing is impeccable, and we were in stitches at his jokes,” said Ramjeet. “After the show, he said that people came up to him and told him he should consider going into comedy, so that’s when the idea really took root.”

Ramjeet assumed the task of organising fundraising events after her partner, Julian Young, passed away in 2021. The effort has taken on a special significance for Ramjeet as the Torah scroll will be inscribed in the memory of her late partner, who was also a renowned lawyer, comedy enthusiast and enduring friend of Rabbi Mendy.

Ramjeet could think of no better way to combine Young's devotion to his Jewish faith with his love of comedy than to fundraise for the Torah scroll by staging stand-up comedy shows.

Following the success of the first comedy show, Ramjeet organised a second gig, this time headlined by prominent comedian — and friend of Young — Milton Jones. Ramjeet said the event raised almost £8,000 from ticket sales, all of which will go towards the purchase of the Torah scroll.

But this time, it’s the rabbi’s turn to step into the spotlight. Fundraising for the Torah scroll also holds weight for Rabbi Mendy, who founded Chabad Islington — the only synagogue in the borough since 1967— in 2011 with his wife Hadasa. Together, they created a one-stop-shop for the local Jewish community. In addition to the synagogue, the Chabad offers Krav Maga classes, children’s programmes, Shabbat dinners and even hosts an art gallery with regular exhibitions of works by contemporary Jewish artists.

Getting the permanent Torah scroll for the synagogue would mark “a massive step forward, a graduation to the next level of our institution,” Rabbi Mendy said.

“A Torah scroll is the most sacred object that a community could own in a synagogue. The heritage and the story are profound.”

The entire scroll will cost a lofty £40,000, of which £14,100 has been raised so far. Rabbi Mendy said he hoped to obtain the remainder of the funds by September to coincide with Young’s yahrzeit.

So, will Rabbi Mendy’s stand-up debut mark the start of a new side hustle? Unlikely, he thinks. “I would say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity — come or you’ll miss it.”

On February 25, Rabbi Mendy will perform an afternoon and an evening show of “A Rabbi Walked into a Bar”

To book tickets, go to:



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