Stephen Pushkin creates a Jewish EastEnders for television


What do novelist Bernard Kops and Yiddish actress Anna Tzelniker - best known for playing Yente, the matchmaker in Fiddler On the Roof - have in common? They both grew up in the East End of London and have contributed to a new documentary about the area.

Called My Jewish London, the 70-minute programme is the brainchild of retired assistant film director Stephen Pushkin. The 71-year-old has spent six years working on the project, which is about the history of the Jewish East End and the immigrants that settled there in the 1880s. Mr Pushkin, who grew up there, tells People: "It's all about the experiences that people and their families had, and what drove them to the East End.

"I wanted to look at Jewish history and show people the hardships that these immigrants faced."

The documentary is based on interviews with ten well-known people, including Geraldine Auerbach, the founder of the Jewish Music Institute, English actor Lee Montague and Professor Bill Fishman.

Mr Pushkin, now based in north London, says: "Because I grew up in the East End, I'm a toughie but there was one man, Ludvic Berlin, and his story really touched me."

Mr Pushkin, who has worked in the film industry for more than 40 years, started the initiative with producer Peter Harrison, but he is no longer involved.

"It feels great that the project is finally completed. I have directed many shows but paying out of your own pocket as a retired man is quite different.

"It was definitely a lot of hard work but very enjoyable."

He is hoping to screen it at several venues across the UK. He has been in touch with the Jewish Museum and the Jewish Film Festival, in addition to schools.

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