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Star-studded start for JW3

    Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks visiting JW3 accompanied by CEO designate Raymond Simonson and Dame Vivien Duffield whose foundation provided much of the funding for the new building
    Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks visiting JW3 accompanied by CEO designate Raymond Simonson and Dame Vivien Duffield whose foundation provided much of the funding for the new building

    Prominent figures from culture and the media, including actress Zoë Wanamaker and former Times editor James Harding, will be welcomed to London’s new Jewish community centre when it opens later this year.

    After a decade of anticipation, planning and construction, JW3 will formally open in north-west London’s Finchley Road on September 29.

    With the aim of “increasing the quality, variety and volume of Jewish conversation in London and beyond”, according to its incoming chief executive Raymond Simonson, the opening season, announced this week, includes a conversation with two heavyweights of British theatre — Young Vic director Kevin Spacey, and the National Theatre’s Sir Nicholas Hytner.

    JW3’s £50 million building, funded privately by Dame Vivien Duffield’s foundation and others, will open with a programme of more than 1,000 events and activities. The venue, which includes a screening room, an auditorium and rehearsal studios, will also be home to a kosher milky restaurant run by chefs from Ottolenghi and Made in Camden.

    Designed to be what Dame Vivien calls “a vibrant destination for London, open to all who have an interest in Jewish life”, the first season will include music, dance, comedy and cooking events, with highlights such as a performance of Ruby Wax’s Losing It, a discussion with film producer Lord Puttnam and an “edible cinema” screening of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    On the bill: Zoë Wanamaker
    On the bill: Zoë Wanamaker

    The intention from the outset has been for JW3 to be at the heart of a communal life, in the manner of a similar centre in New York. “We will realise this vision by creating outstanding events and activities, and by bringing Jews of all stripes together,” said Mr Simonson.

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