DRESSING WITH HAART:
Inside Julia’s unorthodox wardrobe
YIZKOR – Living with loss
New Beginnings Pink Rabbit turns 50
THIS ROSH HASHANAH, HELP US KEEP LIVES TOGETHER FOR FAMILIES LIKE ROCCO’S
At four months, Rocco was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1 – a rare, genetic and life-limiting condition which affects all his muscles. He is unable to walk, crawl, eat or swallow and needs a machine at night to help him breathe. In the first two years after Rocco was diagnosed, we were in and out of intensive care with one hospital stay lasting six months. I had three older children and was also pregnant. Our life was in complete turmoil so when Camp Simcha came to see us and told us all the ways they could help, it felt like a lifeline.” - Rocco’s mum Kimberley This year we have sadly seen a 50% increase in the number of families needing Camp Simcha’s support. We need your help to provide bespoke practical, therapeutic and emotional support to 100s of Jewish children like Rocco and their families.
Scan QR code to donate now or visit: campsimcha.org.uk/rh2021
A BIT OF HEALTH & BEAUTY
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE JEWISH – BUT IT HELPS
PINK RABBIT TURNS GOLD
A MAN FOR ALL DELIS
OVER TO OLIVIA
Editor’s letter NEW BEGINNINGS is our cover theme and we hope the exuberance of babies, children and puppies fills you with hope for the new year. Channelling optimism is hard after so much Covid misery but headteachers have to, and they reveal how they coped and future plans on page 62. On the subject of planning, the half-day school return ahead of the High Holy Days is puzzling parents, but the annual festival shuffle keeps us on our toes. Wouldn’t it be great if Rosh Hashanah, like Christmas Day, was a fixture on the calendar rather than a luni-solar moveable feast? But on the subject of feasts, Sarah Mann-Yeager
of esteemed butchers Louis Mann has some festival recipes that will blow your shofar and actor Steven Berkoff consumes a huge deli feast at Reubens as he talks to Jenni Frazer about the tragedy of politically correct Shakespeare. With the treasured When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit turning 50, Francine Wolfisz learns the truth behind the tale from Tacy Kneale, daughter of the late author Judith Kerr, and Louisa Walters salutes a coterie of creative females, some of whom use loss and grief as a source of inspiration in their work. This shared experience of sorrow continues on page 58 as we acknowledge the significance of Yizkor on Yom Kippur. When I asked Alex Galbinski to write this story, I never imagined I would be part of it, but now I am because my
mother died suddenly in June. As journalists, we have the privilege of writing about our personal experiences for a wider audience, but with bereavement it’s an entitlement that does not diminish the pain. Lauren Rosenberg and Abbie Mitchell know this too well and I would like to thank them for also sharing their tragic stories, which will hopefully help others to cope. Like life itself, Life magazine is a measure of all things and although I didn’t plan to dwell on tsuris, equally I can’t close without mentioning the passing of comedy legend Jackie Mason. A regular JN contributor with caustic wit and contentious wisdom, he always made us laugh at ourselves and we will miss him. Sad endings. New beginnings. Here’s to a new year filled with laughter.
Editor Brigit Grant firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Diane Spender email@example.com
Naomi Nakim Sandy Rashty Designers Daniel Elias John Nicholls
Advertising Sales Marc Jacobs Jewish News Editor Yael Schlagman Richard Ferrer Matthew Serember firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 020 8142 8611 Contributors Francine Wolfisz FRONT COVER Alex Galbinski Photograph by Adam Soller Louisa Walters
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
IT’S ALL NEW COMING TO YOU CINEMA, FESTIVALS, EXHIBITIONS – IT’S TIME TO HEAD OUT AND ENJOY WHAT YOU’VE BEEN MISSING, OR JUST CUE UP A PODCAST AND STAY IN
PEEPS WITH PODS Big on banter, Jews have found an audience outside their own families to listen to them. As subscribers to the Jewish News Podcast and Brigit’s Bagel (just nod), a new year calls for new voices. So if you haven’t listened yet, you really should…
Table Manners Hosted by Jewish singer/songwriter Jessie Ware, who started out as a journo on another Jewish paper (!), it is her mother Lennie who has the spiel as they talk over supper with such starry guests as Ed Sheeran, with whom Jessie wrote her biggest hit, Say You Love Me. Umpteen episodes later, they got Paul McCartney on to discuss dinner and hit the ‘jackpod’.
On the Edge with Andrew Gold
It’s too obvious, but who cares as the awardwinning BBC and HBO journalist lives up to his name with a show that probes and pokes at the world’s most controversial and inspiring figures. Gold asks the questions and corners feminist leaders, psychopaths and plane crash survivors who ate their fellow travellers. It’s a real pick ’n mix, of which even Lord (Daniel) Finkelstein agreed to be part – and that was after the bigamist episode. Well, what do you expect ‘On the Edge’? www.andrewgoldpodcast.com
Kabbalah for Everyone Remember when Madonna ran about Regent’s Park with red ribbon around her wrist? That was when she was into Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish wisdom adopted by Hollywood and avoided by the knowing. If you were never invited to their HQ, this podcast enables you to transform your daily life. For the better, of course, which is what you want from a new year podcast. www.anchor.fm/kabbalahforeveryone
Wonderful wonderland Annie Leibovitz, one of the most influential snappers of our time, will drop into the Barbican Centre in November for an exclusive event to mark the publication of her forthcoming book, Wonderland (Phaidon). The legendary photographer will reflect on her career – which dates back to 1970 when she began creating what became her ground-breaking work for Rolling Stone and then at Vogue and Vanity Fair in the 1980s through to the present day – the people she has photographed, the editors with whom
Raised in the Catskill Mountains by a yeshiva-educated mother, Jennifer Connelly would be Life’s choice to play Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in the anticipated Top Gun: Maverick, which opens 19 November. Jen was only 16 when Tom first played the aviator, in 1986, but she gets to recreate the ‘back of the bike’ moment previously enjoyed by Kelly McGillis. And with her character named Penny Benjamin, is it possible Tom has taken his F-14A Tomcat on a Jewish flight path this time? If so, it’ll ‘Take Your Breath Away”.
she has collaborated and how her distinctive approach has develped. She has worked with designers such as Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo, Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld, personalities such as Kate Moss and Serena Williams, politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi and cultural figures including the Queen and Lady Gaga. It promises to be an interesting night.
LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 5
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Naughty treasure Spend an evening with one of Britain’s favourite (and naughtiest) national treasures, Miriam Margolyes, as she shares stories from her remarkable life. Now, aged 80, the BAFTA award-winning actor has finally decided to tell her life story in her long-awaited memoir, This Much Is True and appears in an exclusive event at Ali Pali 17 September. www.fane.co.uk/miriam-margolyes
BUTTMITZVAH, London’s queer Jewish simcha, returns this Chanukah, after two years wandering the desert. Get your fancy pants on (prizes are promised for the best dressed) for a very Yiddish Yuletide, and all the post-plague favourites you thought you’d never see again, including Ru Paulstein’s Runway, Candy Gigi, All I Want For Christmas Is Jews, chocolate fountains galore, matchmaking drag kings, a Mizrahi DJ set, family speeches, Jewish karaoke booth, Torah tarot and matzah more. Everyone is welcome but remember: it’s a nudnik-free zone. Saturday, 27 November 2021, Oval Space, https://fixr.co/event/859233
Gender-bashing power Best-selling author Lauren Groff is in London on 8 October to talk about her new book, Matrix, and the intriguing historical figure at its heart, with fellow writer Elif Shafak. Certainly capturing the zeitgeist, the figure is Marie de France, a queer woman who tries to wield power in medieval Europe, despite not fitting the gender ideals of the era.
LOVE THAT FRINGE Tsitsit: The Jewish Fringe is a new festival that celebrates ‘the diversity of Jewishness’ – and the variety of places Jews in this country have lived – through music, theatre, comedy and family entertainment. Set for October, Tsitsit is the cross-generational brainchild of Alastair Falk ((pictured), a former headteacher and founder of Limmud, and 40 acts, including performers from the US, Brazil and Israel are showcasing klezmer, poetry, musical comedy, cabaret, cockney Yiddish music hall, Ladino tales and a children’s musical about three penguins trying to get on board Noah’s Ark. But it’s keen to showcase new talent alongside established acts. “It’s good to remind people that Jewish culture isn’t only about a history of persecution and conflict,” Falk says. “Think of it as British Jewry’s Got Talent.” www.tsitsitfringe.org
Don’t feed the fox!
You’re told not to respond to haters, but David Baddiel doesn’t listen to this advice in Trolls: Not the Dolls, his one-man show, which has been around for a while. In Baddiel’s case, Jews Do Count and particularly on Friday, 22 October, when he shares stories of the dark, terrible and hysterically absurd cyberpaths he has been led down after interacting with trolls – those awful people who spend all day hurling abuse at people they’ve never met before for no other reason than to fill the huge gaps in their own lives. www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Yes, it’s outside of London but the exhibition, Lucian Freud: Real Lives, by the master of modern portraiture is surely worth travelling for. A deeply private man, Freud, who died in 2011, painted the people who were closest to him – his friends, family, fellow artists and lovers. It runs until mid-January 2022 at Tate Liverpool. www.tate.org.uk
Comic genius Move over Batman, there’s now a new Jewish teenage crime-fighting superhero in town. In DC Comics’ graphic novel Whistle, which is out on 7 September, bestselling author E. Lockhart tells the story of 16-year-old Willow Zimmerman, a social activist who helps all those in need, even Lebowitz, the stray dog who sticks to her like glue. But, closer to home, things are difficult. Willow is looking after her sick mother whose job doesn’t provide enough health insurance – and she can see time is running out.When in desperation she reconnects with her estranged “uncle” Edward, he opens the door to an easier life – but it comes at a cost. Will she remain loyal to the man who kept her family together or use her new powers to be a voice for her community?
6 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk Still Life
Change is afoot for Dancing With Louise, every mother’s first choice for teaching tots to twirl. Rebranded for the New Year as MOUVE by Dancing with Louise (she kept the ‘OU’ from her name), pupils will now wear merch with such slogans as ‘Get Your Mouve On’ and ‘Mouves Like Jagger’. Raising over £100,000 for community charities from her many company productions, the spotlight is rarely on founder Louise Leach, so here are six fascinating facts:
Above: Louise with some of her dancers. Right: Harrovian pal Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch, who was the lead in both shows (“I used to visit him on weekends and he would often be in full tux, tails with top hat – the traditional school uniform”). 3. At Birmingham Uni, she gave her first dance lessons and headed up the dance and musical theatre society. 4. She played lacrosse for south England and the all-England university teams. 5. She made it to the final round of TV’s Popstars, shared a room with Kym Marsh and partied with the Spice Girls and
1. She speaks Spanish, Italian, German and French, which helped when she was staging children’s shows for Club Med resorts worldwide.
Westlife on weekends.
2. Aged 16, the dance school she attended collaborated
in favour of a Torah observant lifestyle after spending a
on two productions with Harrow School for boys. The
Shabbat in Golders Green with friends. She then met her
result of this was a friendship with Harrovian Benedict
husband and, after just five weeks of dating, got engaged!
6. As part of the girl group Soleil with two other finalists, she was shy of closing a record deal when she quit the industry
THE ONE THAT MAKES YOU ‘COUNT’ To mark the 25th anniversary of the festival, UK Jewish Film is launching the UK Jewish Film Short Doc Fund, which is aimed at redressing the continuing under-representation of British Jewish life on our TV and cinema screens. Five brilliantly creative three-minute documentary films have been commissioned, reflecting surprising and unexpected aspects of our world and they will premiere at JW3 during the 2021 UK Jewish Film Festival in November, along with these movies....
The one that makes you laugh
KISS ME BEFORE IT BLOWS UP Director: Shirel Peleg Germany, 2020, 105 mins, English, Hebrew, German, Arabic with English subtitles. Having been together for a whole three months and still madly in love, Israeli Shira and her German girlfriend Maria decide to get married. The fact that they are two women is a non-issue, but with a settler father, a Holocaust survivor grandmother (who is secretly in love with a Palestinian doctor) and a Nazi family history between them, almost everything else certainly is. Shot entirely in Israel, Kiss Me Before It Blows Up is an endearing comedy about crazy families and even crazier love stories.
The one that make you hungry OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES Director: Laura Gabbert USA, 2020, 76 mins
Famous Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi is on a quest to bring the sumptuous art and decadence of Versailles to life in cake form at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Together with a delectable team, the pastry chefs create a true feast of Versailles, complete with a cocktail whirlpool and posh jelly shots, architectural mousse cakes, chocolate sculptures, swan pastries and an edible garden. Yum!
The one that makes you cry
THE POLICEMAN Director: Ephraim Kishon Israel, 1971, 86 mins, Hebrew, French with English subtitles. Turning 50 this year, this bitter-sweet classic film won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination, making it one of the most successful and beloved Israeli films ever made. Honest, naïve and with a heart of gold – patrolman Avraham Azulay is a real mensch but a lousy policeman. While his commander is eager to see him retire, Azulay, who loves the police more than his wife, can’t imagine turning in his uniform.
The one that makes you want to travel far and wide
SHALOM TAIWAN Director: Walter Tejblum Argentina, 2019, 85 mins, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Mandarin with English subtitles.
The one that makes you want to get up and dance
SIN LA HABANA Director: Kaveh Nabatian Canada, Cuba, 2020, 95 mins, English, Spanish and Farsi with English subtitles.
A sultry, toe-tapping Cuban romance as aspiring classical dancer and part-time salsa teacher, Leonardo, schemes to find a way to escape poverty in Cuba and make a new life for himself and his girlfriend in chilly Canada. A charming young Jewish-Iranian artist finds herself caught in the ensuing cross-fire
The one that makes you feel proud
ALBERT EINSTEIN: STILL A REVOLUTIONARY Director: Julia Newman USA, 2020, 80 mins, English. Featuring a wealth of rarely-seen archival materials, correspondence and new interviews, Albert Einstein: Still a Revolutionary sheds a new light on the genius, affable scientist and his progressive, still timely views – on abortion and gay rights, class and race, the state of Israel and Jewish identity and nuclear disarmament. A captivating and pride-inducing watch, in absolute, non-relative terms.
Having exhausted all fundraising possibilities in his hometown of Buenos Aires, and with a heartless moneylender at his heels, Rabbi Aaron embarks on a trip to Taiwan where, he is told, wealthy donors would be happy to financially support his community. Taking in the sights around the country and connecting with locals helps Aaron save his marriage as well as his synagogue and congregation. A stunning portrait of this colourful and beautiful country.
LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 7
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et’s end the and let our children nightmare dream of a brighter future When Orit was just five years old, her father was tragically killed in a car accident. Overnight Orit’s dreams turned into nightmares. The trauma of becoming an orphan impacted every aspect of her life. However, through the support of specialised projects funded by Jewish Child’s Day, Orit is learning to dream once more, of a brighter future. To support these life-changing projects and make a Jewish child’s day, visit jcd.uk.com/donate or call 020 8446 8804
Registered Charity No. 209266
Louisa Walters chats to four women about the purpose and inspiration of their creativity
THE RUG DESIGNER Bonnie Sutton “A rug is a liveable art form that defines a room and brings warmth and soul to it,” says Bonnie Sutton, owner and head designer at Knots Rugs in Chelsea. Bonnie’s grandfather was a restorer of antique and oriental textiles, so rug skills are in her genes. A former pupil at JFS, Bonnie attributes an art tutor with encouraging her to explore her creative side, starting her on a journey that led to studying fine art at college and, eventually, to designing and creating her own rugs. Bonnie founded Knots Rugs in 2007 together with her father, launching with a collection of Florence Broadhurst wallpaper designs successfully reinvented into rugs. The following year, her aunt joined the team, so this is very much a family gathering. Now, the company designs and produces its own pieces, made entirely from natural wool and silk and hand-woven on looms. The rugs are highly durable and Bonnie is proud to be keeping an ancient craft alive. “Rugs can complement existing décor or take centre stage as a focus in a room,” she says. “This is usable art – it can be walked on, sat on, accessorised and, most of all, enjoyed.” Based on the Kings Road in Chelsea, Knots Rugs has created some landmark pieces
and a stunning artistic collaboration collection called Your Floor is the Canvas. “There are many Jewish families with links to the rug trade,” says Bonnie. “My heritage spans three generations and the knowledge has been passed down from my grandfather to my father and from my father to me.” Hand-knotted rugs are an investment and trying them in situ is the best way to choose the right one for your space. “What you might think is an outsider can quickly become the favourite, as the light, space and furniture all play their part
in how well a rug works in a room,” explains Bonnie. Materials are also a consideration. In high traffic areas, such as hallways, 100 percent wool or a wool/silk mix is advisable, as wool is the most durable natural fibre and easiest to maintain. Silk brings an element of luxury, shine and softness to the rug – it really lifts the colours and creates a play with light. With natural fibres, the rug can be cleaned professionally whatever the spillage and quality weaving means that it can last a lifetime. www.knotsrugs.co.uk
THE MUSICAL THEATRE WRITER Emily Rose Simons Friday nights were a highlight for musical theatre writer Emily Rose
Simons when she was little. After dinner at her grandparents’ house, she would step out from behind the floor-length curtains and perform shows for her family. “I was no good at dancing or singing, but still I kept going,” she confesses. Writing songs and composing shows was always in Emily’s skill set and, from the age of nine, she was entering song-writing competitions. This year, Emily has made it on to the shortlist of finalists for the Musical Theatre Writers’ Song Competition. If she wins, her song will be presented by a West End performer on 10 September at the Hackney Empire. The song she has entered is the opening number of a new musical she is working on called The Funeral Lady. “It may sound rather morbid, and although it is indeed dark, it is also comic and heart-warming,” she says. “I lost my grandma just before the pandemic and this got me thinking about funerals, especially those where there are no friends or family to organise them.” Emily was awarded both a BA and an MA in music at Bristol University and, with the encouragement of her family, took part in a graduate music theatre programme at NYU, which was the point of no return. “I think this was when they clocked that I wasn’t going to be a lawyer!” she laughs. Emily tends to write female-related musicals, sometimes peppered with references to same-sex relationships and Judaism. A good LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 9
CREATIVES example of this is Confessions of a Rabbi’s Daughter. In the past, it was directed, produced and performed by Emily herself, but it is due to return next year and, this time, she is working with an up-and-coming producer and a musical director who has worked on Six (and been to Shabbat dinner at her grandma’s!). It has been shown at the Edinburgh Fringe, OffWest End, Off-Off Broadway, toured the UK and the US. The show is about Rachel, a girl who has always wanted to make her father, a rabbi, proud by becoming a rebbetzin. However, as her parents plan their daughter’s wedding, her friendship with another female blossoms into love. Emily’s brilliant songs chart Rachel’s turbulent emotional struggle to choose between her heart and her father’s dreams. www.songsofemilyrose.com
returning to the heat, the space, the light and the huge skies. Out of that, I began with what became the end of the book – the story of a woman returning, after many years, to where she grew up,” she says. Ruth Newman, the main character, is trying to make sense of her life after suffering a complex trauma. She has to learn compassion for herself in order to move on, and it is only when she is able to change by fully imagining herself as someone she has held to be unacceptable that she is able to realise her full potential. Beverley is delighted with the many positive reviews for the book, plus the interest it has generated in debate with readers and in conversations she has had with charities that are at the forefront of the reconciliation process. She is hopeful it can support and raise awareness in this space. We Were The Newmans is available to purchase on www.amazon.co.uk
THE ARTIST Francine Scialom Greenblatt
THE AUTHOR Beverley Lester Psychotherapist Beverley Lester published her first novel, We Were The Newmans, earlier this year. She was born in London but grew up in Johannesburg and Tel Aviv. In 1989, she returned to London, where she married Steven and had three children, who are now young adults. “The story I have written grew out of many experiences, both professional and personal,” says Beverley. “Part of the work of being a therapist is to bear witness to another person’s story. The therapist holds the story of the other person’s reality, and part of that experience might mean struggling with what was and will never be again, what wasn’t and can never be – the universal experiences of loss. Embedded in that can so often be the struggle to forgive – to forgive others and to forgive ourselves. We Were The Newmans looks at whether it is possible to forgive.” Beverley began thinking about these ideas more than 21 years ago, when she went back to South Africa for the first time since leaving 14 years earlier. “I had a strong sense of guilt, shame and confusion around my identity as a South African, and huge, visceral delight in 10 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
Francine Scialom Greenblatt was born in Cairo in 1951, grew up in South Africa and now lives in London. She’s been painting for 50 years and has exhibited at more than 100 prestigious art shows, galleries and public spaces all over the world. At the age of 70, she is still painting and exhibiting. Lockdown didn’t stop her – she has launched a new virtual gallery space and does regular Insta lives. Francine is best known for her paintings of the eroticised figure, but living in Egypt during the Suez Canal crisis, her Jewish upbringing, politics, religion, breaking taboos and having to adapt to different cultures as the family moved to other countries, have all played pivotal roles in her work. With a Spanish mother, an Italian father (Scialom is an Italian spelling of ‘shalom’) and a childhood spent in many countries, Francine recognises the importance of language as a key to engage in the world and she is multilingual. “My father was generous and compassionate, my mother was eccentric and creative, and both encouraged me to be independent and courageous in formulating personal ideas,” says Francine. “At the age of eight, I developed jaundice and I was bedridden for a couple of weeks. To occupy me, my Mum gave me something to ‘copy’. It was an Alitalia calendar with wonderful reproductions of Leonardo da Vinci’s works. She asked if I’d traced the drawing of the Mona Lisa… from then on, she encouraged me even further.” Lockdown and the loss of her mother just before it brought a new element to her work. “I found myself looking at and being overwhelmed by the skies on my walks. I felt grateful to be alive and I felt my mum’s aura all
around me – as if the spirit world and nature came together. It was a challenge to convey all this in a 2D image,” she says. A browse of her ‘In Lockdown’ collection on her new website shows that she managed it rather well. An intensely private person, lockdown was not too much of a challenge for Francine, but she decided to embrace the new technology and has, as she puts it, become an Instagram Queen, talking regularly to her 1,500 followers
from her studio. She is a great orator with a bubbly personality and brings her paintings to life on screen. She also took the opportunity to launch her website, so she can exhibit virtually. “Painting and not exhibiting is like writing and not publishing,” she says. “Showing your work is the fullness of it.” Francine’s new virtual exhibition, To Love & To Hold, is now live on her virtual gallery. It celebrates painting and the nude by inviting the viewer to enter intimate ideas through a voyeuristic lens. www.studio-fsg.com
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A Man For All Delis JENNI FRAZER SHARES LOKSHEN SOUP WITH AN ACTOR POISED FOR BATTLE. AND NOT JUST ON CABLE STREET
12 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
Left: The 1936 Battle of Cable Street, which will be performed at JW3 by deli devotee Steven Berkoff, above, who is pictured performing Hamlet at The Roundhouse in 1980, right
teven Berkoff and I are casting a movie. To be precise, we are in deep discussion about his upcoming show, a prose-poem about the 1936 Battle of Cable Street, a staged version of which he is performing at JW3 in October. But for a film, the veteran actor recognises, he needs to open up the action beyond a one-man event, so we are involved in a bit of fantasy casting. Steven will play his own Uncle Sam Berkowitz, one of the “Jewish shtarkers” who took to the streets of London’s East End, sometimes armed with clubs, to fight off Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascists. Steven is convinced there is enough meat in the story of Cable Street to make a “terrific” feature film – or even a TV series. So far, there has been some interest from the BBC’s Alan Yentob, he says, and Steven has made a small docu-drama DVD, which is available (to buy) on his website. For now, however, we are enjoyably involved in picking out actors to play the principal parts in Cable Street, The Movie (the police! the horses! the trade unionists! the Irish dockers!) and, of course, Mosley himself. “Well,” says Steven, “David Suchet would be great as one of the campaigners, to make sure Moseley did not ride freely through the East End.” What about Mandy Patinkin, a fluent Yiddish speaker? Yes, says Steven, and what about Billy Crystal? I’m struggling to picture Billy Crystal in Cable Street, but, you know, it is a fantasy here. Steven picks Benedict Cumberbatch to play “Chief mamser” (aka Moseley), and we decide on Colin Farrell for the leader of the Irish dockers. We debate whether there are many female roles in the film – Steven says the women mainly stayed at home and didn’t run out on the streets – and I say that in my next life I might well be a casting director. And, suddenly, two tables away from us, someone else decides to get involved. “It’s never too late to change professions!” he advises me. Then he takes a long hard look at Steven. “Aren’t you Steven Berkoff?”
The actor agrees. A long,convoluted anecdote follows as to where the man two tables along last saw Steven. For it ought to be declared that we are having this priceless conversation in Reubens in central London and, as a cautionary word to the wise, few conversations that take place in a kosher restaurant can be considered private. Our over-friendly table neighbour, lunching alone, is clearly dying to join us and, although denied this pleasure, takes his leave of us with many blessings (in Yiddish) as to our future good health. We are in Reubens to celebrate Steven’s own love of all things Jewish deli. Even before we meet, the actor has chosen what he wants to eat and, having placed his order, his discussion of longclosed favourites, such as Barry Rogg’s in Whitechapel, is punctuated with little cries of “Heaven, heaven!” as he attends to his rather delicious-looking chicken soup – complete with lokshen and kneidlach. “I’m going to weep in a minute,” he says. “I like weeping.” Wherever he goes on his acting travels, Steven seeks out a deli: Jo Goldenberg in Paris, Katz’s in New York, Canter’s in Los Angeles – “I adored it!” He speaks of long-ago smoked salmon cutters, “who cut like skilled surgeons”, and kisses his fingers in memory of the aroma of heimishe cucumbers (an example of which is duly brought to his plate). Leslie Steven Berks was born in Stepney on 3 August 1937 and, after wartime evacuation to Luton, went on a brief postwar emigration to America, something that came to a rapid conclusion when his father, Al, a tailor, couldn’t find work. The family returned to London and Steven, who had changed his name, took acting lessons, then studied at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. He also trained at an international theatre school in Paris, becoming proficient in the physical style of acting that has remained his trademark to date. Many of Steven’s acting roles were villains. He enjoyed playing what he calls “Janus-faced” parts, men with good and bad sides to their characters. “If you’re
playing a good guy, the emotions are endless, you can set the world on fire. If you’re playing a villain, in the end, all you can do is shout.” Branching out into writing and directing, particularly one-man shows of his own devising, he developed a fearsome reputation as the bad boy of British theatre – trailing that as a come-on while acting in Israel in the early 90s – a bit like Byron, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”. Anyone expecting Steven to have mellowed, however, is in for a disappointment, as his opinions are as strong as ever. On Jeremy Corbyn, and his repeated affiliation with Cable Street: “I don’t think it’s an appropriation as such, and his mother may well have been there as an observer, but I don’t think she could have taken any part, because it was a very tight-knit group of Jews, Irish and communists – and very violent. “Corbyn isn’t necessarily an antisemite, but the ideology of communism is to support the working people. Wherever he sees what he believes to be oppression, he immediately comes to the defence of those oppressed. I don’t think he is a pleasant guy, a bit shabby.” He thinks a repeat of Cable Street is “very possible”, saying: “We’re [British Jews] too connected by an umbilical cord to what’s going on in Israel. We should be supportive, but not so connected that those who can’t attack Israel, here in Britain, attack us. We’re a wonderful convenient scapegoat for Netanyahu’s most nefarious acts – I don’t understand how Israel could have elected him. He is corrupt, decadent… and I say it, because Israel is the most wonderful place.” After a mini-rant about kashrut and a story about how he challenged the late Rabbi Lord Sacks on the matter, he treats me to a withering put-down of political correctness when talking about the Shakespearian roles he might have given. He longed to play Othello – but that is unlikely to happen now that “blackface” is frowned upon. “The passion of the man, it reaches right into your intestines. He tears himself apart. But it’s now on a no-go list – that is, by people who aren’t actors. Actors
love to play him, they like to perform, to impersonate, to mimic. But non-actors…” He adopts a fake upper-class accent and drawls: “‘Oh, you mustn’t play Othello, that’s colonial, disgusting’ – as though one was singing ‘Mammy’. But that’s not it at all. It’s one of the greatest roles in Shakespeare, which puts the final button on the cap of a great actor’s life.” In some ways, Steven announces, “the actor’s oeuvre has been castrated”. Denouncing the “nitwits” who he says have made it impossible for a white person to play Othello, Steven growls: “It’s good for a white person to get inside the soul of a black man. The same way as black actors now play white parts. Good for them to do it, but do not proscribe what should be played for an actor.” We are, sadly, unlikely to see Steven’s Othello. But there is still a treat in store for audiences this month, as he is releasing a video of the poem he wrote, Requiem for Ground Zero on DVD to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. “It will be epic,” he declares. Scheduling problems – “pure and simple” – led to him leaving the age, colour and gender-blind production of Hamlet, in which he was due to play Polonius to Ian McKellen’s prince at Windsor’s Theatre Royal this summer. “I did the best I could,” he says. “I really loved playing the role with Ian and Jonathan Hyde” and he was in the production for two preview weeks before opening night. His voice drips with scorn at newspapers that sought to make a scandal out of his departure. He won’t say, but I detect a slight sense of relief on his part that he left, and a welcome return to his own projects. The food is finished and its debris lies all over our table. Steven phones me the next day. “I ate too much,” he confesses. “But, what the hell. What a way to go.”
• They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of
Cable Street written and performed by Steven Berkoff is on at JW3 (online and in the building) on 3 October 2021. www.jw3.org.uk LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 13
שנה טובה ומבורכת BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR
בהוקרה על תמיכתך המתמשכת T H A N K YO U F O R YO U R O N G O I N G S U P P O RT
אליסיה הוהרמן )בירקנאו- אושוויץ,1943– ורשה,1902( 1935 , פריז,זר פרחים
ס“מ70 x 62 | שמן על בד יד ושם,אוסף המוזיאון לאומנות
Alicja Hohermann (1902, Warsaw-1943, Auschwitz- Birkenau) Flower Bouquet, Paris, 1935 Oil on canvas | 70 x 62 cm Collection of the Yad Vashem Art Museum
‘I haven’t always been where I am’ Francine Wolfisz speaks to Eyal Booker about how his new fitness platform, Empower, helps change bodies and minds
Photo by Joseph Sinclair
f it’s true that how you look on the outside reflects how you are on the inside, then Eyal Booker certainly has plenty to smile about. The former Love Island contestant has several enviable assets, from his gym-honed physique to his lush curly brunette locks, but it’s as much for his positive attitude that the 26-year-old has become a go-to man in helping others “be the best version of themselves, physically and mentally”. His recently-launched subscription fitness platform, Empower, isn’t just about toning up and slimming down – it also takes a more holistic approach in achieving goals for both body and mind, explains the down-to-earth reality star. Eyal, who grew up in Bushey and now divides his time between Los Angeles and London, says fitness has always been something he’s “super passionate” about, but it was only during the months away from the hubbub of celebrity life during lockdown that he realised how “incredibly empowering it is in all aspects of people’s lives”. He says: “Empower is a one-to-one online fitness coaching platform that I’ve created where I can talk to people about their goals NEW YEAR without physically being there and create a ! N EW YO Eyal w Jewis ants to giv U! tailor-made workout and nutrition plan. h com e bac JN rea munity an k to the “I keep in constant contact with my d is o ders to EM exclusive a ffering clients and send them daily or weekly PO cc at a d WER by Ey ess iscoun motivational videos. I’m not a qualified al, ted ra Reach t e . o life coach, but I can talk through things ut Email : info@ to Eyal per sonall empo from my perspective, giving my thoughts y w and q uote r erbyeyal.c eferen om and feelings on certain situations, fitnessce: JN-57 82 related and life related. “It’s one of the most fulfilling feelings to be able to really help other people achieve something they’ve always wanted to, but never known how to do it. My clients always want to thank me, but I say, ‘look, you’ve done this yourself. I’ve helped you, facilitated and guided you, but I’m not there doing the workouts or making the recipes – you are doing this for yourself.’” One of his clients, a 26-year-old woman who “got herself into a really unhealthy cycle of habits”, including excessive eating, alcohol and recreational drugs, has lost 15kg and turned her life around, says Eyal. She’s even pursuing a career in fitness, because “she wants to help other people the way I helped her, which is really inspiring”. Eyal, who is in a relationship with 22-year-old Delilah Belle Hamlin, daughter “For me, fitness is about my time for self-care,” says former Love Islander Eyal Booker
of Real Housewives star Lisa Rinna, first came up with the idea of Empower after seeing how the pandemic was impacting people’s mental health. He says of last year: “I think it was a shock to the system, like it was for everyone to start with, but for me personally [that time out] was quite needed. I came out of Love Island, my life was a million miles an hour and, without realising it, I think I needed that rest time to really reflect on my journey up to that point. “We live in a world that is extremely fast-paced and don’t really give ourselves time for self-care. The pandemic forced everyone to really look inwards and address other aspects of their life.” It was during this time that Eyal says he really appreciated the value of working out as a way of both boosting body and mind. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of down days where I felt less than positive,” he reveals. “So I strive for that feeling of positivity again. Much of it stems from fitness. I’ll wake up at 6am and do a pretty intense workout. The endorphins released from something like that can change a person’s whole mood – you can definitely feel it.” He mostly trains five or six days a week, but mixes it up with gym workouts, callisthenics, cycling or even skateboarding. “For me, fitness is about my time for self-care and whatever I feel like doing, now I’ve got to a place where I’m happy and confident,” he says. Has there ever been a time when he didn’t feel as confident, I ask? “I haven’t always been where I am,” he confesses. “Just because I look a certain way or people see me in a certain light doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t overcome my own insecurities, struggles and lack of confidence.” Having gone through that, he says, best places him in helping others living with low self-esteem and confidence issues. He adds: “People who come to me quickly realise there’s no judgement and I’m just trying to help them through their journey. I would like to think that outside of what I look like, people see me for who I am and trust they are in good hands.” Describing himself as an empath, Eyal credits his family – and especially Israeli mum Michal – with his desire to genuinely help others. “I’m grateful I was brought up in a loving, kind environment and family where they instilled those values,” he says. As for the future, Eyal seems content with the direction in which his life is heading, as well as his blossoming relationship with model Delilah – and he hints that both London and LA could feature in his future. “I love London; it will always be my home. I hold it in such high regard and have built my life here – but Los Angeles is a really exciting new home,” he says. “My girlfriend is there and home is where the heart is, as they say. If I can bridge the gap between the two and spend time in both, that’s the dream.” To find out more about Empower visit www.empowerbyeyal.com
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Violet lives on her own. But she’s not alone. Violet, along with other members of our community centres was supported over the pandemic through our online virtual programme. Violet said it was her highlight week after week. But now Violet is waiting in anticipation for her centre to reopen to see old friends and the new ones she has met online; “it will be a real party”. So, whilst we are continuing to support the community through our virtual programmes, Meals on Wheels and telephone befriending service, we can’t wait to welcome back Violet and thousands of others in our community who both deeply rely on our centres – and miss them. But we can’t do it without your help. We rely on generous people like you to ensure we can continue to provide all our vital services and bring sweetness and joy to more people like Violet this Rosh Hashanah.
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“I’ve already chosen my favourite outfit for when I can see all my friends again at the Michael Sobell Jewish Community Centre.”
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How does Chai care? “Pomegranates are known for their goodness and energy giving properties. Even though we have not been able to meet together physically, through each virtual art workshop, we always feel a boost of energy, wellbeing and positivity. These sessions recharge us all with the nutrients of mutual support and understanding, which carry us through the week ahead.” The Chai Art Workshop Group (Artist Carmella Ovadia)
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Agent Prov Liliane Rovère talks perfect roles, series returns and bad Skype connections with Brigit Grant
IN THE FIRST SEASON THERE WAS NOT SO MUCH OF ME – I HAD SOME GOOD LINES BUT DIDN’T REALLY GO INTO ACTION.”
he voice – rich and raspy – is unmistakeable. “Allo, Allo, can you hear me? But I can’t see you. F**** technologie!” Liliane Rovère doesn’t mince her words. Why should she? At the age of 88, the stage and screen veteran has more work offers than actors half her age and is the star turn in the French global hits Call My Agent! (Dix Pour Cent) and Family Business on Netflix. “Now I see you,” she says, eyes fixed on the Skype screen. It is a familiar look of scrutiny to fans of Call My Agent! as Liliane plays no-nonsense doyenne Arlette Azémar in the comedy drama, which revolves around ASK, a fictitious talent agency in Paris. Smart, wry and addictive, the three season series is packed with cameos by such French A-listers as Isabelle Huppert, Béatrice Dalle and Jean Dujardin, all of whom agreed to portray themselves as ‘difficult luvvies’. These are the actors ASK ‘represents’ and, as the longestserving agent, Arlette can silence a stroppy star with a raised eyebrow. She is also the mistress of acerbic Gallic put-downs, though nothing
Left: Liliane with her Call My Agent co-stars, including Camille Cottin (arms folded) as Andréa 18 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
beats her huffy exits with beloved Jack Russell terrier, Jean Gabin, at her heels . That the dog is named after the revered French actor says everything about Arlette, but the character owes her backstory to Liliane. “In the first season, there was not so much of me – I had some good lines, but I didn’t really go into action. Josette Arrigoni, the reallife agent Arlette is based on, is nothing like me. She is a very classical lady with a nice hairdo and I’m.. well, I’m a little special,” laughs Liliane, pulling at her punky coquettish mop. “So I took the character more towards myself and the producers liked it.” So much of Arlette belongs to Liliane that their mothers would struggle to tell them apart. There is the shared love of film: “I used to drag my mother to the cinema three times a week when I was a child,” croaks Liliane, who smoked for years but, like Arlette, now only puffs joints and loves jazz – her own real-life romance with American jazz legend Chet Baker being part of the plot. Liliane met the trumpeter when her mother sent her to live with relatives in New York in 1954, although she later married the late jazz bassist Gilbert “Bibi” Rovère, with whom she had a daughter, Tina, who is a movie make-up artist. Many of the stories that shaped Arlette are in Liliane’s 2019 memoir, La Folle Vie de Lili, which she wrote for her daughter, now aged 50. “She wanted to know everything about my life and I realised to my regret that I didn’t know anything about my own parents after they died. So I started to write my own story for Tina, without knowing the book would ever be published.” That the birth of Liliane Cukier on 30 January 1933 coincided with Hitler becoming German chancellor could have led her to the hideously familiar fate of so many Jews in occupied France. But Liliane and her Polish-Jewish immigrant parents escaped to south-western France, avoiding SS round-ups and hiding with Dominican nuns. As this is all in the book, Liliane would rather you read for yourself than make her revisit. “But it’s only available in French,” she warns. Liliane speaks a
ovocateur bissel of Yiddish, but has no interest in her faith. “My family was not religious and my mother went to synagogue once a year for Yom Kippur and lit a candle or two. I’m not religious, but I pray. On my own.” She does, however, depict ‘Jewish’ well on screen and in Family Business, plays the ultimate badass bubbe. Returning this month for a third season, the series created by Igor Gotesman is about a family of kosher butchers who become cannabis growers with feisty grand-mère Rozenberg kick-starting the business with help from former lover – a Dutch weed-grower. In other news, Call My Agent! is set for a comeback as a film and possibly another series, despite the ASK agency (spoiler alert) disbanding in the the ‘finale’ of season three.
“I don’t know what happens in the film because I’m not in the writer’s head,” huffs Liliane when pushed for more info. “All I know is that Andréa (Camille Cottin) goes to New York and gets an opportunity to brings us all back together. I don’t know more and I don’t ask.” Liliane has never been too bothered about her career, preferring to hang with musicians, smoke weed and not be one of the difficult actors Arlette represents. “When I’m on set, I have no tantrums, make no demands and I’m friends with the crew. I laugh a lot, so people like me. I don’t like actors who think they are very important. I’m the same person before a film and the same person after. I don’t like prima donnas.” Not surprisingly, everyone is now calling her agent.
Liliane as Arlette Azémar with Call My Agent co-star Jean Gabin, the adored Jack Russell terrier
Liliane, above and right, in New York with her lover, the jazz legend Chet Baker LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 19
Shana Tova - שנה טובה Registered Charity Number: 258306
We hope that the coming year brings with it renewed hope and we look forward to continuing our work to support the needs of all Jerusalem’s residents and strengthen the city for the future. Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy, and sweet New Year Hoping to see you THIS year in Jerusalem
Teddy Park, a project of the Jerusalem Foundation, is a place of hope and peace where all the children of Jerusalem play together For more information: Susan Winton, UK National Director, +44 (0)20 7009 9649, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jerusalemfoundation.org
Judith with her daughter Tacy
Judith on her wedding day
Pink Rabbit turns Michael and Judith pictured in 1926 with parents Alfred and Julia
The beloved tale of the girl who left her toy bunny in war-torn Berlin is 50 years old. Francine Wolfisz speaks to Judith Kerr’s daughter about the real story behind When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
ince she could first remember, Tacy Kneale has had a keen awareness of being the child of a Jewish refugee. But to know exactly what is feels like to be one was only an understanding that really came after her mother, Judith Kerr, sat down one day and penned a book about her own childhood experiences during the Second World War. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, which also features Judith’s original illustrations, has sold more than three million copies worldwide since it was first published 50 years ago. Now, in celebration of its special milestone anniversary this month, HarperCollins is republishing a hardback version, while Tacy has lent her vocal skills to the first audiobook edition of this special tale.
Tacy, a trained actress and artist who has worked on the animatronics for the Harry Potter films, tells me she was thrilled to be involved with helping bring her mother’s “beautifully written” story to a new generation. Based on Judith’s early life and her family’s escape from Nazi Germany when she was only nine, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is told from the perspective of a little girl named Anna, who is too busy with schoolwork and tobogganing to listen to talk of Hitler. But, one day, she and her brother are rushed out of Germany in alarming secrecy, away from everything they know, to embark on an extraordinary journey to a new life. According to the oft-repeated story,
Judith – who died aged 95 in 2019 – was inspired to write the book after taking her children – Tacy and her brother Matthew – to see The Sound of Music. “That’s absolutely true,” relates Tacy, who was around 13 at the time When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit came out. “Obviously we knew the basic facts, such as fleeing Germany to escape the Nazis and going to Switzerland and France, but I think mum said we didn’t want to hear too much detail. We didn’t really know exactly what it was like, you know, what it felt like. “We went to see The Sound of Music and my brother said afterwards, ‘Well now we know exactly what it was like for mummy!’ That was the moment, I think, when she was galvanised into writing her book.” One of the reasons, perhaps, for the book’s subsequent success was the fact that, in 1971, there was nothing quite like it. “The main knowledge one had of the war was Anne Frank,” agrees Tacy. “That, of course, was a very different story, or all the war films, which were told through the point of a view of the army and air forces, not a little girl.” The other reason is the fact that Judith’s work could be read and appreciated on different levels by both children and adults.
The cuddly toy as described in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, above, along with other illustrations from the book
LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 21
For Tacy, reading it now five decades on feels like a completely separate experience to the one she had when she first encountered the book. “As a child, apart from having the strange thing of it being about my own mother, it also read like an adventure. Anna and my mum were almost like two separate creatures for me. “But when you read it as an adult, you think about what the parents must have been going through. My grandfather [Alfred Kerr, an influential German theatre critic and essayist] had such a huge, important life in Germany and he was bilingual. To then come here, when he was relatively elderly, and have his language taken from him, his everything essentially taken away from him, must have been horrendous. “My grandmother [composer and pianist Julia Kerr] was highly practical, a sort of bundle of energy, but again came here and was reduced to doing things she had no idea how to do.” Judith recalled how her parents largely shielded her and her brother, Michael, from their difficulties, so much so that she often commented: “They
made us feel like it was an adventure”. It was only in her late forties, while writing When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, that Judith discovered the truth. “My mother found out they were a lot closer to the edge than she knew,” reveals Tacy. “There’s a massive archive in Berlin containing documents about my grandfather and she found letters there written in desperation. He had to sell everything. It was much worse than she realised.” While depicting Anna on an “adventure” of sorts, the book is also unafraid to shy away from the more tragic elements of history, including the death of Uncle Julius at the hands of the Nazis. “I think if she had left that out, it wouldn’t have been true,” reflects Tacy. “You can’t whitewash things like that.” Although written five decades ago, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit endures in the canon of children’s literature, largely because the story remains relevant today. Tacy agrees: “Before she died, I remember mum saying how she
had heard about some particularly horrendous journey for a group of refugees who were hiding in a lorry. It was horrific and they managed to get here anyway, in terrifying circumstances – and my mum just shook her head and said, ‘I wonder which of them will now write their Pink Rabbit?’” It was a poignant moment, one that especially resonated with Tacy because, as she acknowledges, her family too were refugees. “If they hadn’t been lucky, I wouldn’t exist,” she says. Now, a whole new generation can enjoy Judith’s story for the first time through the audiobook – and touchingly, Tacy – the inspiration behind her mother’s other well-known work, The Tiger Who Came To Tea – admits she ‘felt’ her mother with her as she recorded the story. “I did slightly feel she was appearing over my shoulder as usual and saying, ‘Are you sure? Maybe you should do that bit again?’” she laughs. “It’s a beautifully written story. When you read something aloud, that’s when you discover if something is well written or not. So long as I read what she wrote, it absolutely worked.” When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (50th anniversary edition) by Judith Kerr is published by HarperCollins in hardback (£12.99) and audiobook (£9.99) on 30 September Above right: Riva Krymalowski as Anna in the 2019 film version of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Judith wrote the book to share her experiences as a child refugee with her children
22 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
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INTERVIEW THE NURSE WHO NABBED TV’S HOTTEST MEDIC HAS PENNED HER OWN STORY, WRITES BRIGIT GRANT
here was a time when every woman wanted to be Julianna Margulies. Correction. Who they wanted to be was staff nurse Carol Hathaway at Chicago County General Hospital and cosy up with resident paediatrician Dr Doug Ross as portrayed by George Clooney. Among its 40 million viewers between 1994 to 2009, the American medical drama ER had an army of female fans hoping a sick child would be admitted in every episode. As terrible as that sounds, only an injured infant guaranteed a glimpse of Dr Doug, so when romance blossomed between him and Nurse Hathaway, the positive audience reaction was tempered by envy. The response to co-star Clooney and general embracing of ER is revealed in Julianna’s recently published autobiography, Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life and although she tested
literary waters writing her children’s book, Three Magic Balloons, this is much more the ticket for Dr Doug devotees. “We had no idea that ER was such a huge hit at the start,” says Julianna, still the vivacious beauty who bagged the main medic. “George and Anthony Edwards (Dr Mark Greene) possibly knew more, but I’d only done an episode of Law & Order and a few Homicide: Life on the Street before basically going from waitressing to ER.” So when women began to publicly demonstrate their affection for Clooney in front of the newbie, she was shocked. “The show had been on the air for four months when we went to Chicago to shoot exterior shots, and I remember walking down Michigan Avenue with George and Noah [Wyle] and Eriq La Salle while going out to dinner, and it was like The Beatles. I mean, women were throwing their panties and people were
THE SUNSHINE OF HER LIFE screaming and crying and I sort of went to the back of the line.” As previously stated, the Hathaway/Ross hook-up was met with joy and jealousy, but Julianna’s star rose too, and when a customs officer at Gatwick Airport addressed her as Nurse Hathaway, she realised she’d gone global. “I’d been flying back and forth to Gatwick throughout my childhood and there was always something going on at customs with me and my sisters about our papers or the whereabout’s of our mother,” says the actress, who was shuttled across the Atlantic between divorced parents. “But when the customs guy said, ‘I don’t believe it, it’s Carol Hathaway’, it was ‘oh wow, it’s worldwide.’” Her book’s title refers to the name Julianna’s mother gave her. “From the day I was born, she called me her Sunshine Girl – the one who brings sunshine into a room.” As the youngest of three sisters, all stranded between countries, accents and parental responsibility, being the ‘sunshine’ provider was tough for Julianna. But she constantly adapted. “When I arrived in Sussex, I was a Yank’, so immediately got rid of the accent, but when I moved back home, I lost the posh English to fit in.” Although her flair for vocal versatility was a cue to try acting, Julianna planned to follow in the footsteps of her lawyer grandmother. “I thought that would be the more noble profession and only took a theatre course because I wanted to balance out the heavy academics.” But when the lights went up on stage, she knew she was home, though she got her chance to practice law as Alicia Florrick, the attorney with the philandering husband in The Good Wife. In contrast to ER, where she was memorising medical jargon – “saying carboxyhaemoglobin and not knowing what it was”, as Florrick – she had terminology help from lawyer husband
Top: George Clooney as Dr Ross with Nurse Hathaway. Middle: The Good Wife with co-star Chris Noth. Left: On set for The Morning Show with Reese Witherspoon
Keith Lieberthal and could build the case herself as “I was actually speaking English”. Interestingly, their son Kieran has not seen his mother playing a lawyer or a nurse. “He doesn’t want to. I thought during lockdown he could watch ER, but he doesn’t want to see anything. I think he needs to see me as his mum and I really respect it.” Julianna also respected her son’s decision not to have his barmitzvah in January during lockdown in New York. “He did not want it on Zoom as he felt he’d been going to Hebrew school for four years and couldn’t bear it. He wanted to be with his friends. So we did the barmitzvah in June on a rooftop and I had to learn Hebrew, so I could be part of the service. I found it really exciting and I feel very much a part of the Jewish people, but I’ve never really embraced the actual religion.” When Julianna left ER and walked away from a salary of $27 million as well as Clooney, people thought she was crazy. But she wanted other roles – which still keep coming – hence her latest as new news anchor Laura Peterson in the second season of Apple TV+’s Emmy-winning drama, The Morning Show. For the record, she also hung on to Dr Ross as she and Clooney remain best buddies. “On the ER set, he made it fun, familial and loving and he never changed. I’m smart enough to know, having been in the food industry, and been a server and a waitress, it’s very important you treat everyone equally. And I watched as his star rose so much higher than the rest of us, but he never changed.” True to the her mother’s moniker for her, Julianna spread more sunshine on the lothario paediatrician every woman wanted for her own child. Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life by Julianna Margulies is published by RandomHouse, priced £22.50 (hardback RRP) LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 25
w re i the
Merging football matches and movies is the key to Signature Entertainment’s 10-year success, discovers Jenni Frazer
ilm and football. Like a lot of people, Marc Goldberg loves both but, uniquely, was able to fuse them financially turning his company, Signature Entertainment, into the largest, most successful independent film distributor in the UK. That he is celebrating Signature’s tenth anniversary at his home in Los Angeles is proof of Marc’s ability to tackle and pitch, as he is now a film producer in his own right, with a slate of upcoming movies featuring the likes of Nicholas Cage, Ray Winstone, Russell Crowe, Toni Collette and Isla Fisher (aka Mrs Sacha Baron Cohen). Marc now ‘talks talent’ like a Tinsel Town native despite being raised in Hatch End, north-west London and supporting West Ham. Marc’s enthusiasm for his team is so ingrained that if you cut him in half – not that I would recommend this as a course of action – the strong bet is he’d bleed claret and blue. “I’m a diehard, invariably long-suffering fan who has been going to see them my whole life,” he says of the East London team to which he was introduced by his late father, Warren, who Marc describes as one of the pioneers of independent film and video business back in the 80s. “He had a love of film, but equally a love of business, so I grew up around both. I spent my summers working in his warehouses and shops; at the same time, he had a genuine passion for movies.” By the time Goldberg was 16, his father’s business was going through some hard times and Marc, though still unsure about what he wanted to do, left school to start working. “In sales. I had various jobs – and now, looking back, I realise I learned sales on the street, in telesales, advertising, recruitment – you name it, I did it.” Marc was in his early 20s when his father “resurfaced” with a new business borne on the back of the UK’s then burgeoning interest in DVDs. “Suddenly, everyone wanted to watch films at home and my dad raised enough money to launch a distribution company – Hollywood DVD. I went to work for him in 26 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
a tiny little office in Harrow.” The secret to Warren’s ‘Hollywood’ success was distributing old films featuring big stars before they were famous. “People were building DVD collections, or giving them as gifts,” recalls Marc, who sold the films Warren found to shops and supermarkets. Like all family businesses, working together could be fun, but also a source of friction. “We had different ideas about the direction of the company, and my toughest challenge as a small independent was going up against the big boys. You’re never first at the table. You’re always going to be punching above your weight. The films I had were never the best, so it was always difficult, finding a good angle to sell them.” After three years, the Goldbergs sold Hollywood DVD and built up another company, Boulevard Entertainment, with a similar concept. Both companies, says Marc, were “thinking about what deals could be done on that day. It was never about the long-term. I learned not just what to do, but what not to do”. Breaking out on his own aged 30 led to a brief, unfulfilling tenure
working for a previously big customer, but gave him the push to launch his own film distribution company from a bedroom in his own family’s Mill Hill home. “My sales background helped me to get films into supermarkets and I had a feel for the way the industry was developing,” says Marc who, by 2013, had moved Signature Entertainment from an office in NW7 to London’s Charlotte Street, the heart of the UK film business. “We probably acquired more movies than anyone in the world, for this particular territory,” he says with justified pride. But as DVDs formed a smaller part of the film business and streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon became more important, Signature adapted its business approach. And it was at this point that Marc took a deep breath and, four years
Marc Goldberg with late father Warr en, the DVD pioneer, and brother Nick
ago, moved to Los Angeles with his family, to work more as a producer. But it’s a risky business, assessing how successful a film is going to be, based on such factors as the script and cast. “It’s a constant gamble,” he admits. “You’re either trapped into paying too much, or stuck with a turkey that could be absolute rubbish or unpopular because of association with a #MeToo predator.” That said, he’s been generally shrewd in his choices and has done well. His biggest success as producer/distributor is the film Final Score – a direct Marc with his Final Score stars Dave Bautista and Pierce Brosnan
result of his devotion to West Ham and inherited drive from his father who died in June. “When I started Signature, I met the club’s new owners, David Sullivan and David Gold at an event” explains Marc. “Sullivan, in particular, became a friend, and five years after that initial meeting, he invested in Signature and became my partner.” The partnership was serendipitous. West Ham were due to move to the Olympic Stadium where they now play, and Upton Park was going to be knocked down. “So I came up with the idea of using Upton Park for the centre piece of a film, after the last game had been played.”. Traditionally it takes about four years to make a film from scratch, but not for Marc. “There was only a small window of opportunity between the last game and the demolition of Upton Park, so I had to pull the film together in eight months.” In that time he flew back and forth to LA talking to potential investors, “And I had no real experience of how to do it, so I engaged with other producers for help: and in the summer of 2016, raised $20 million and made a fantastic action movie starring Pierce Brosnan and Dave Bautista.” Final Score was not just a huge success for the fledgling company – it became one of the first Sky Original films – but it also gave Signature massive credibility in the industry. Other doors opened: Signature made, produced and distributed The Hatton Garden Job, and Marc brought in new expertise to grow the company. Six months after his arrival in LA, things went up a gear as he sold Signature’s distribution arm, allowing him to focus on producing. “It changed the landscape completely, for living, working, children, lifestyle – and how we threw ourselves into Los Angeles”. Now, Marc spends his time assessesing scripts, options, locations and budgets. “I also watch so many movies,” he says. “Thrillers, action, horror... and Disney. I’ve watched every Disney film with my kids.” That his kids – Jake, 14, Mia, 11 and Lyla, five – love film is no surprise.That they know the words to Forever Blowing Bubbles even less so. Marc produced them.
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Extending Your Lease
n paper, it should never have worked. He was an internationally famous film star, but from a dirt-poor, Yiddish-speaking background. She, by contrast, was not Jewish and raised in comparative luxury – her mother was a German socialite and she grew up speaking three languages. And yet Issur Danielovitch – Kirk Douglas – and Hannelore Marx – Anne Buydens – married in 1954 and, against all the trends of Hollywood, stayed married until Kirk’s death in February 2020, aged 103. Anne died in April this year, aged 102. Their bounds-breaking partnership survived despite issues that would have killed off most marriages – his repeated infidelities, the death of one of their sons due to drug addiction, the near-terminal financial problems because of bad management. As they grew older, Kirk returned more and more to Judaism, celebrating a second barmitzvah aged 83 and a third when he was 95. And so it came as no surprise when, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, Anne announced that she had converted to Judaism, joking that Kirk “deserved to marry
dashed-off notes on odd slips of paper – some of them the kind of billets-doux that lovers write ‘just because’.” Anne said: “The intimate letters of our courtship and marriage have been hidden for many years in a secret spot in my Montecito bedroom… I saved whatever Kirk wrote to me, of course, but over the years I also collected my letters to him. I would find them in the suitcases I unpacked when he came home from locations. I was happy to share them again with Kirk.” Each, sitting in front of the fire, read out a few of the letters aloud to each other. They weren’t just love letters, Anne recalled: “There were cables, notes scribbled in airplanes and between takes, and a few X-rated
They died one year apart after 66 years of marriage. Jenni Frazer pours over a new book of love letters between Kirk and Anne Douglas a nice Jewish girl”. She had studied with Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple, who had also guided her husband through weekly Bible study classes. She went through the conversion process, including the mikvah, recalling: “After removing all nail polish, I entered the swimming pool and put my head under the water. I came out looking like a wet dog. But I was Jewish.” All of this and more is charted in a sweet, good-natured book the couple wrote together, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood. “When we reminisce about our courtship,” wrote Kirk, “we could never have imagined our new love growing into a lifetime of these golden hours. Some of them have followed heartbreaking days. We made it through the hardest them because, at the end, we had each other. “One evening when we were sitting in front of the fire in the great room of our Montecito home, I asked my wife if I had ever sent her love letters. She smiled mysteriously at me. ‘Would you like to see them?’ she asked. ‘I’ll be right back”. She returned with a battered-looking manilla file folder filled with flimsy airmail envelopes, letters on pages from the yellow lined legal pads we used at home, and
ramblings about how much we missed each other.” And, inevitably, not all the letters are between Anne and Kirk. In fact, the very first letter that appears is one from Kirk’s mother, Bryna, dated 8 April 1958, and dictated, of necessity, to one of the film star’s six sisters – because Bryna was illiterate. It begged him not to go to Russia where she saw a Cossack murdering her brother. Kirk paints a dismal picture of his home life, the middle of seven children born in New York between 1912 and 1924. “Yiddish was the only language I heard in the house,” he wrote, describing his mother’s endless cycle of “cooking, cleaning, washing and worrying about paying the bills”, while his father Herschel, or Harry, drank away all his wages every night. The fact Issur Danielovitch reinvented himself to become one of the world’s biggest film stars is little short of miraculous. He had an admittedly rocky relationship with Judaism: “I was not a very good Jew. I never practiced what Judaism tells you to do, to teach your kids all about Judaism.” His first wife, introduced to him at acting college by Lauren Bacall, was Diana Dill, mother to his first two sons, Michael and Joel – but she was not
Jewish. And his wife Anne, mother of his sons Peter and Eric, was not Jewish originally either. Kirk observed: “My four sons all knew I was a Jew but they were allowed to be whatever they wanted to be. The only thing important to me was that they be good people who help other people because all religions should try to make you a better person and a more caring person. Whenever religion does that for you, it’s a good religion. For her part, Anne remembered: “As a child in Germany, I had to join the Hitler Youth, where we were indoctrinated with Nazi beliefs and encouraged to spy on our parents and neighbours. Later, when I was surviving in Paris by writing German subtitles for films, my maid denounced me to the Gestapo, eager to report the strange phrases on the work I brought home. I was picked up at 5am and interrogated for hours. I finally convinced the officer I was not a spy, but only because I could speak German. It was the most terrifying moment of many for me during the Second World War.” Anne had made a marriage of convenience with a Belgian national, Albert Buydens, because when the war began, she was the only one of her friends with German papers “which put all of us in danger”. She ended up working as a film publicist and met Kirk in 1953 in Paris. He wanted an assistant who could speak several languages and handle his personal publicity and Anne was fluent in three plus very pretty.The book describes how he tried to hire her – and was turned down; and how he asked her out to dinner – and was again turned down in favour of making scrambled eggs at home. “I was shocked,” wrote Kirk, “I was determined to change her mind.” He sent three emissaries to woo her, coincidentally all Jewish: director Anatole Litvak, screenwriter Irwin Shaw, and Robert Capa, founder of the Magnum photography group. It worked and Anne went to work for Kirk on a trial, but it was strictly business as he was engaged to actress Pier Angeli. The stormy ups and downs of their relationship before they married are reflected in some of their letters. In one, after Anne had “walked away angry one afternoon”, Kirk wrote: “Darling, I have a feeling that you’re not coming back tonight. I hope I’m wrong! It’s been a bad day for me and probably a worse one for you. Because my bad day means all of my problems added to yours. Forgive me… suddenly it seems stupid that I am going to dinner without you. Because, believe it or not, I love you!”
• Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood (Turner Classic Movies)
LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 31
32 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
ongregants never know what to expect at St John’s Wood Synagogue on a Shabbat morning. Dayan Ivan Binstock can always be relied upon to shake things up on a Saturday, but not in quite the same way as Philip Sallon does with his off-the-wall wardrobe. As a synagogue security volunteer, Philip has not so much redefined the ‘defence’ dress code, but dispensed with it altogether and wows the Sabbath crowd with his out-of-the ordinary attire. Philip doesn’t need a high visibility jacket and sensible slacks to do the job to keep folks safe. Not when 18th century knickerbockers, white stockings, waistcoat and a Vivienne Westwood shirt work just as well to steer off intruders. And he just loves being the aesthetic mirage amid conventional regulars in navy and taupe. “There is a lot of snobbishness on the surface with some Jewish people, but when you break through the misleading surface appearances, they are much nicer and friendlier than they first appear. I was brought up to believe that clothes count for nothing except aesthetic artistic statements. Yes, aesthetics are lovely for superficial entertainment and short-term pleasure, but to quote my parents, ‘It’s principles and how you behave in life that matter the most.’ Respect (kavod)) for your fellow human beings is certainly not about what you wear, but how you treat them.” Raised to be a “mensch” by his renowned, fairly Orthodox caricaturist father, the late Ralph Sallon, and mother, Anna, who was of Lithuanian descent, Philip attributes his gregarious nature to his paternal greatgrandfather Solomon Shuchna Sallon, who “knew everyone in the shtetl of Raciaz, was the big macher,, and ran around constantly meeting and greeting the world”. “Even his Willesden Cemetery grave has ‘Shuchna, why do you run?’ inscribed on it,” says Philip, who also can’t keep still and has an ability to bring people together, which has made him one of London’s most recognised faces. “And a mensch too, I hope?” he asks. Friends and followers would agree, but it was only when Philip was viciously attacked and hospitalised in Soho in 2011 that the extent of his fame and notoriety was realised as he made the national news. Eccentric in the most enticing of ways, he has been a magnet to bright young things since the seventies when he would arrive in Golders Green station and summon Jewish teenagers like the Pied Piper of parties. He loved the “full of personality Becks”, many
of whom were included in Philip’s coterie of punks and flamboyants and, through him, had access to London’s most popular events, gigs and clubs. Best of all he started his own – The Mud Club – and turned his artistry to invitations and set design, such as that night in ’83, when he covered the club in Russian logos in red and white lettering with pictures of Lenin. “Within a year, Camden Town was covered with it on T-shirts and everything,” says Philip, who either engineered or was always present whenever ‘it’ happened – whether ‘it’ was the start of the punk movement or the rise of the New Romantics at the Blitz Club. “He knew the Sex Pistols and was far more outrageous than we could ever have hoped to be,” reflected Boy George in an old interview. Not that Philip likes looking back, especially on sadly defunct friendships. “A huge part of my life is about what’s next. I’m interested in the past, too, and thus wear clothes from former decades. It’s nostalgic, but my main concern is what’s round the corner.” Soon to be 70, now sitting on the floor, draped in strategically placed African scarves and little else, how does Philip predict fashion’s future? “It comes from empathy, the artistic interpretation of what’s going on in the real material world. Vivienne Westwood is very clued up on vibes and latches onto the next thing. She is, and has always been, my favourite designer and I have loads of her clothes.” Where they all are in his flat
London’s most colourful eccentric tells Brigit Grant why he never looks back only he knows, as his home is retro-packed. “I decode what’s happening now, then go on to work out what’s next. With my own outfits I invariably do that unconsciously, then analyse what I created.” So when Philip dressed up in a giant Israeli flag for a Westwood runway show, he had clearly analysed the designer’s pro-Palestinian stance ahead of donning a Star of David on his head. As a proud Jew and Israel supporter, he hated certain aspects of Punk when swastikas were worn as a questionable emblem for anarchy. “The people wearing them weren’t racist Nazis, but it was a trend I wouldn’t like to see repeated much as I’m into being a rebel. Apart from murderous emblems of bigoted hatred, anyone can wear anything.” An armchair philosopher who thinks deeply and shares a lot, Philip isn’t too keen on the ‘Jesus on the cross’ adornment either. “Jesus, if he existed, never stopped being Jewish or practising Judaism and nor did his disciples. He was a reformer, a liberal, but if Christians supposedly worship him, then how come the emblem of the religion is a Jew nailed to a cross screaming in agony? If your parents died in a car crash would you have a big picture of it on your wall?” Dressed up or under-dressed in loin cloths, Philip is always the showman. “A lot of people dress up to disguise the fact they’ve got nothing to say,” he sniffs. “As Einstein said, ‘We all know that light travels faster than sound. That’s why certain people appear bright until you hear them speak.’” Philip wore 1930s tailcoats at art school when everyone else was a hippie and was influenced by his older sister, Ruth, who first took him to a Vivenne Westwood shop in 1973. “She often wore these amazing long Arab wedding dresses in the ’60s. My mother often warned her she would never find a husband dressed like that, but she did. Another unconventional Jew as it happens.” Ask Philip for a photo of himself in an outrageous outfit and he will fan through hundreds on his phone. “That’s the photo of me on Shabbas in my knickerbockers,” he chuckles. “After the service, I went to feed homeless people for some charity, then to a trans rights protest in Soho and then a wild party.” A typical day for an untypical fellow. “I will admit that it’s harder to go to shul in the summer because of the outdoor car boot sales and I love a bargain. But when it’s raining or the sales are over, I will be back.” Brace yourself, Dayan Binstock.
LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 33
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BEGININGS Photography by Adam Soller
New beginnings, free of fears – the latitude of early years. Exploring and so unconcerned about the things yet to be learned. So keen to try, to touch, to know – from that ﬁrst breath and as they grow. With each new year, our prayers repeat that life for them stays honey sweet. LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 37
Models : Libi, Luca, Anaya, Grace, Lyla, Eli, Joshua and baby Benji and grandpa Dudley Dogs: Schnauzer – Gracie May, Tibetan – Albus, Cavapoo – Judge and Dachshunds – Pinky and Perky
38 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
Clothes credits: Pink apple pinafore dresses by Boden £35, Navy honey bee Tshirt (from £18 by organic clothing brand Frugi (www.welovefrugi.com) , Honeybee baby cardigan £25 by RachelMasseyHandknit on Etsy.com, Baby stripe bodysuit and T- shirts with bees and apples by WeeClothing (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/WeeClothingUK, Honey bee hats(£10) and harem pants(£21) by Coombecrafted, Beautiful items for Poppets, Pickles, Pooches & People on Etsy.com, T-shirt : This Boy Loves Apples £15 (amazon) and Save the bees (£16.99) Amazon, Kiddydraw Apple Attack Chalk board T Shirt, with FREE Mini Pack of Chalk (£12.95) on Etsy.com, Wheelybug Ride On – Bee (£67.50) Wheelybug Ride On - Bee by www.hippychick.com, Honeybee dress with wings by Amscan– (£12) on Amazon, Suki Soft Bee by Amazon (£9.97)
LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 39
Bab y Talk
t’s not a surprise to hear many babies born during the pandemic spent their days in sleepsuits. At least, my son did. With nowhere to go, there was no need for parents to dress their offspring in designer dungarees or sparkly dresses. Instead, high-street retailers with baby lines saw a surge in soft (but simple) sleepsuits. “Next has a babywear line that started to rival Marks & Spencer and John Lewis,” says Shoshana Kazab, who has worked in luxury baby and childrenswear for the past 20 years. “People did not want to spend £40 on a designer babygrow, when they could buy cheaper from H&M or Zara.” Since restrictions lifted, dressing up babies and toddlers for family gatherings and simchas has started again. But what should your babe be wearing? High street? High end? Kazab, a member of St John’s Wood Synagogue, says the pandemic has turned parents towards high quality, affordable and sustainable brands and “pre-loved” clothes. As the founder of Fuse PR, she has worked with retailers from Harvey Nichols to the royal baby-approved Rachel Riley and regularly worked with celebrities and influencers, gifting clothes that could be promoted on social media or worn at a magazine shoot. She later learnt that many celebs would store away, sell, re-gift or pass on these children’s clothes to charities – “sometimes with the label still on them”. After spotting a fashionable woman buying clothes from a New York secondhand shop in 2019, Kazab realised “prebobanastore.com
40 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
Sandy Rashty discovers there’s a growing desire for quality sustainable baby and childrenswear
owned had become mainstream”. She and her husband put together a business model allowing people to buy and sell baby and childrenswear that was in top condition for a discounted price. In March 2020, she set up Kidswear Collective, which offers luxury second-hand childrenswear to sellers for up to 80 percent off the original price tag. She splits around 50 percent of the proceeds with the seller. She explains: “During lockdown, people started thinking more about their purchases. They wanted more sustainable clothing and considered the impact of ‘fast fashion’. I want to help change the perception of what ‘preowned’ is. “When we receive an item to sell, we have it professionally cleaned, put on fresh tags and package it in a box. It really does feel like a firsthand
product. It’s aspirational and luxurious, without being pricey. Pre-owned fashion will take over by the end of the decade. because people are becoming more conscious as consumers and children under the age of four only wear a designer garment around five times on average. Pre-loved clothes help make it more sustainable.” Kidswear Collective has become so popular, there is now a concession in Selfridges, but there are more sustainable options outside the preloved market from such designers as Polarn O. Pyret which has an organic baby range made from recycled bottles and fishing nets and its designs are unisex, so they can be more flexibly passed between children, from family members to friends.
It’s a trend embraced by friends Olivia Berman and Gabriella Simons, both 30, who had babies over the pandemic. In September 2020, they launched Bobana Store,, an online “one-stop shop” shopping experience. The platform condensed brands for “cool kids” from across the globe, taking a percentage of items sold. They often find the brands on Instagram, later packaging items in eco-friendly biodegradable packaging. “They are gender-neutral, oversized and seasonal all year round so clothes can be passed down between siblings or friends,” says Simons, whose aim is to “minimise the idea of ‘disposable fashion’”. She adds: “It is frustrating spending money on clothes that are small in a few months. The brands we stock are oversized, beautiful quality and wash amazingly well, so they last.” For new mum Lara Benjamin, having washable quality children’s clothes was also key. Looking for comfortable but presentable clothes for her 10-week-old son, she thought “everything was so mature in design, it wasn’t cute or playful”. “Also, when I was looking for cashmere, I found everything was either really expensive or cheap polyblends. I wanted to dress him in something that was super-soft like pyjamas, but socially acceptable to be worn anywhere.” In 2018, she launched Arc de Noa, selling rompers, outfit sets and blankets made from cashmere and cotton. Best of all, they are machine-washable. While many retailers are under pressure to launch seasonal lines, for Benjamin it is more important to make sure designs are long-lasting and the clothes are made ethically. “We are not about pushing a product out every season. We design when we are inspired and some of our collection dates back to when we launched.” www.kidswearcollective.com, www.bobanastore.com, www.arcdenoa.com www.polarnopyret.co.uk
Educating parents! For antenatal teacher ANDREA SILVERMAN, knowledge is power. The Orthodox mother of five, who trained as an antenatal practitioner 25 years ago, is calling on expectant parents to educate themselves ahead of the arrival of their babies. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, she said more people could benefit from information around the process. “Now, people want to be even more prepared,” she said. “It has given people another layer of anxiety, on top of the anxiety around birth, which is unfortunately what we are fed by society, with TV programmes that show drama-filled births. “I want to show people that births can be lovely and even enjoyable. “Being prepared helps; you can be empowered and know the choices you are going to make.” Over the pandemic, the number of hom ebirths in the UK has increased. “I see no reason why people have to go to hospital for a low-risk pregnancy; it can be a good option,” she said. As part of her course, she offers to teach birth partners. “They want to be more involved, but they worry about not knowing enough about what they can do. “A big part of what I do is making sure the birth partner realises they are integral.” She said it was also a good way to meet other “like-minded couples who are at the same stage”.
Group courses for a couple are £195 for four sessions or £250 for private courses. Contact: Andrea Silverman/Plus One Childbirth Education, 07960 781605, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Shanah Tovah! To celebrate with our communities in and around the NW2 area, we’ve launched a series of private screenings in our new care home’s cinema room. We’ll be showcasing screenings from the golden age of Hollywood to art-house films and cult classics, top-notch entertainment and documentaries.
All events are FREE, and we’ll even provide the popcorn! Book your FREE seat for your viewing pleasure
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An Unorthodox wardrobe.
Revealing not concealing!
WARM, WITTY AND SHARP AS HER STILETTO HEELS, JULIA HAART AND HER DAUGHTERS LET NAOMI NAKAM INTO THEIR CLOSETS
he’s the woman we’re all talking about. With her controversial Netflix show My Unorthodox Life making headlines and everyone having a view on her success and cleavage, Julia Haart is the kosher Kardashian – only she isn’t kosher any more. Born Julia Leibov in the Soviet Union, her observant parents came to the United States in the 1970s, settling first in Austin, Texas, where Julia was the only Jew at her private school and then Monsey, outside of New York City where everyone was Orthodox. One would have thought attending a seminary in Israel followed by a shidduch in the US would set Julia up for a “forever frum life”, but when her head was turned by secular literature, TV and a drive-in movie, a new world beckoned. A world in which Julia could wear what she liked and even design what she wore. Julia wanted to attract the kind of attention
that was unacceptable in Monsey, so she left without her husband and initially only one of her four children, launched her eponymous shoe company and swapped the sheitel and long sleeves for real waves and low-cut couture. That she became the creative director at the luxury lingerie brand La Perla and then got the top job at talent management company Elite World Group is the stuff of fairy tales but, without the aid of a fairy godmother, she did marry the company’s Italian chairman, Silvio Scaglia Haart, who took her name. With a net worth of $600 million (£433m), Julia can now buy any dress and wear it without disapproval. Even her estranged Orthodox ex-husband, Yosef Hendler, who is in the series, is goodnatured about her visiting the former family home in skirts that would make a bubbe blush or reach for a tallit to cover her knish. As a retreating Orthodox woman myself, I can only stand back and admire the gusto of this once-modest maven who has become a secular sex bomb, so when she invited me to take a virtual walk through her own enviable walk-in wardrobe, I jumped at the chance. Best of all, she brought along her daughters, Batsheva, 28, and Miriam, 21, who showcase more style in one episode than Paris does in an entire Fashion Week and have Insta followings into the thousands. In real life (which reality TV is not), the three women share a lot of clothes. “Yes! I love getting hand-medowns from my mum and mixing and matching borrowed things from her closet with my own,” chirps Batsheva – and Miriam concurs. “Yup, the closet options never end, but I definitely prefer pants [British trousers] as I only wore skirts for 16 years of my life! I also love the occasional sexy dress.” For those familiar with the show, Miriam’s penchant for clothing that purrs
is no surprise, or that slipping on jeans is a perk for them all. “My favourite jean brands are Glassons, Agolde, MOTHER denim, Zara and & Other Stories,” says Batsheva, who prefers affordable fast fashion, although the proliferation of Gucci and Chanel on her person suggests she mixes it up. But I’ll let them tell you... Naomi: Where do you like to shop? Batsheva: “Actually, I shop all over. Most of my closet is from Zara, Shopbop, Netaporter and I love a good sale. I like fast fashion because it’s affordable but, of course, I wish designer was more accessible.” Miriam: “I prefer ethical fashion!” Julia “I think both are very useful and I love for people to have as many options as humanly possible.” Naomi: What do you have planned for autumn/winter wear? Julia: “I’m currently obsessed with bell bottom jeans.” Batsheva: “Just some sweatshirts I keep in my closet all year round. I store my A/W clothing at my dad’s house to save space in my NYC apartment.” Miriam: “I love buying funky socks that mean something to me. I buy for myself and those I love.” Naomi: What will you all be wearing on Rosh Hashanah and how are you spending the High Holy Days? Julia: “I love clothes that feel like pyjamas but look like you’re going to the Grammy’s. I’ll choose a chic and comfortable long-knit dress.” Batsheva: “I like to keep it comfortable for the night meals and dress in layers for the day because it’s usually very cold in shul.” Miriam: “I’ll be with my dad and soonto-be step-mum, Aliza, who ensures the décor is always fun, since she’s a party LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 45
planner. I’m really excited to be going to Teaneck, New Jersey, with my siblings and celebrating Rosh Hashanah with the blended family! Always good vibes. Naomi: Who are your favourite designers? Batsheva: “Dior, Fendi, LV.” Miriam: “E1972 (my mum’s new fashion brand). I love Ruthie Davis platform sneakers. Totally my thing – my favourite is their Disney collection because it’s so funky. I’m also into Gucci because they make really comfortable silk sets.” Julia: “e1972!” Naomi: Julia, I’m curious to know more about your new brand, which you design and is the first-ever fashion collection from the Elite World Group. Julia: “It is inspired by our diverse global community of creatives and progressive thinkers.We challenge the traditional perception of ‘model life’ by viewing it through the lens of inclusivity, purpose and positive self-expression. In that spirit, e1972 blends luxury and ready-to-wear, capturing the unique contrast of daily life and inviting you to be your own icon.” Naomi: Wow, that’s a lot to think about. I particularly love the glimmering green sequin mini-dress with e1972 emblazoned across the back. What is the significance of the name e1972? Julia: “It’s a nod to Elite’s colourful past and optimistic future, combining the iconic ‘e’ from Elite with the year the company was founded. The collection is unapologetically avant-garde, with every piece made specifically for the customer. Women’s or men’s-styled looks. Faux fur and knits. It’s your choice. We empower you to dictate the conversation.” Naomi: You all have your own very personal styles. Did you get keep any of your old, more modest clothes, or throw them away? Batsheva: “I am still part of the Modern Orthodox community so keep items for when I go back to Monsey. I try to be respectful of my family there.” Miriam: “I never took anything from my previous life into my new NYC home. All of those clothes are still in Monsey.” Julia: “I got rid of absolutely every item of clothing.” Naomi: Would you say your core styles have changed drastically? Julia: “My internal style hasn’t changed …now I just get to share it with the world instead of dreaming about it and thinking it was evil to wear what I wanted. I love 46 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
clothes with colour and drama! I think that definitely derives from my Russian roots.” Batsheva: “My style is constantly evolving and that’s what I love about fashion.” Miriam: “Definitely. As I became more comfortable expressing myself through fashion, I found styling not so easy. I started wearing more sets that match, which is convenient and cool.” Naomi: What are your most loved pieces? Julia: “My first pair of black leather Saint Laurent leggings and my first Kelly ba.g” Batsheva: “Pair of comfy ripped jeans from MOTHER Denim. Dior oversized sweatshirt.” Miriam: “One of my Gucci tracksuits that’s full of flowers.It is just so colourful and me. I honestly love wearing tank tops, at the same time smiling to my younger self who wasn’t able to. My former community considered it immodest.” Naomi: What trends do you see coming back? Batsheva: “The neutral colours we wore last winter.” Miriam: “I’m trying to bring platforms back because they give you height and are easy to dance in! I’m happy that tie-dye is becoming a thing again, because I love all things colour!” Julia: “I think comfort is key, athleisure is here to stay, and I think you will see some joy in the collections as everyone dusts off their entertaining skills that have lain dormant since the pandemic – people want some joy in their lives!” Naomi: You all wear a lot of designer clothing. Do you have a budget limit? Julia: “We kind of decide as we go.” Batsheva: “Oh, I have a budget! I’ll splurge on something for an occasion…” Miriam: “A little bit of both.” Naomi: Are you ever seen in the same outfit twice? Julia: “I tend to not publicly wear the same thing twice, but privately, of course I wear the same things frequently.” Batsheva: “I definitely wear things twice! I try to restyle pieces so I re-wear in a new way if I’m posting them on my feed multiple times.” Miriam: “Ask anyone in my family – if I love an outfit, I wear it all the time!” Naomi: So if you had to choose one outfit to rescue in a fire...? Julia: “Definitely my Saint Laurent leggings.” Batsheva: “I would honestly save
accessories over clothing, but I think the most sentimental item is the purple jumpsuit my mum designed.” Miriam: “My rainbow 5-inch platforms.” Naomi: Any style or beauty tips? Julia: “Yes! Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen – and then more sunscreen! And I’m obsessed with La Mer! My style tip is to wear aspirational clothes, meaning dress for your future stronger, confident, better self ... dress that way and your clothes will inspire you.” Batsheva: “Dress for your body! I am short so I like to wear high-waisted pants [trousers] and skirts to make my legs look longer. My skincare tip is to always take off your make-up and wash your face.” Miriam: “Prioritise comfort. And free the ‘nip’ – I want to bring back nipple shapes and normalise them being visible underneath shirts! In terms of make-up, I love a tinted moisturiser. Also adding highlighter to eyelids is pretty cool.” Naomi: Is La Perla the go-to lingerie for all of you? Julia: “Yes. We just launched Haart & Lieu, a new category of revolutionary luxury shape wear, featuring fashionforward pieces a woman can feel confident wearing under clothes or as clothes!” Miriam: “Everything my mum designs is always so comfortable, so I do love La Perla. I’m also super pumped about Haart & Lieu shapewear – it’s so cute and comfortable.” Batsheva: “Sorry, I’ve just got to take this call.” Naomi: I have to ask you, Julia, if the flattering cuts of the new range are modelled by women of all shapes and sizes because of your past struggles with food and body image? Julia: “I never had an eating disorder. I chose to starve myself as a way out, a way to commit suicide. I’m definitely not in that same miserable place now. I love my life and my family and I am on a mission.” Naomi: So if your Unorthodox Life has a second season, can I have the scoop on what happens next? Julia: “Sorry, that can’t be disclosed.” Obviously there will be a second season because we’re all hooked, but our chat was over without an exchange of air kisses or mobile numbers. Hopefully I’ll meet Julia when she comes to London next March to promote her book, Brazen: My Unorthodox Journey from Long Sleeves to Lingerie and that’s when she will give me the e1972 green sequin minidress. Well, a girl can dream. Just ask Julia.
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SANDY RASHTY DISCOVERS WHY ONE DESIGNER WON’T GO BLACK
Olivia Rubin wears her own brand, which showcases her love of rainbows and brightlycoloured clothing 48 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
LIVIA RUBIN HAS NEVER BEEN A FAN OF A BLACK DRESS. Despite friends saying the colour would suit her fair complexion, the designer has always worn bright prints, an aesthetic reflected in her namesake womenswear brand, Olivia Rubin London. “I don’t like black,” she says. “Even before I started my brand, I never liked black on myself. “My friends would point to my blonde hair and say I would look so great in black, but I just do not think it’s a mood booster or does anything for me.” With a love of rainbows and multi-coloured sequins, Olivia, 39, has gone on to design a brightly coloured range of dresses, skirts and knitwear coveted by celebrities and influencers, from singer Katy Perry to actress Lena Dunham and Eva Chen, Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships. Her pieces fall into the treat-yourself price mark, with dresses starting from £140 up to £420 and cardigans averaging £250 a piece. Surely, I ask, shoppers would get more wear out of a less-recognisable little black dress? She disagrees, saying: “Ironically, I think women would buy a colourful dress they can wear again because it makes them feel really happy, vibrant and special. In black clothes, they just blend in. I do not want my customers to feel like that – I want them to stand out and have fun.” Olivia says she is “anti-fast fashion”, adding: “I wanted to price myself between high-end and high street. A lot of women want to buy one special piece they can wear over and over again.” Her line is stocked on high-end outlets from Selfridges to Harvey Nichols and while the retail industry has been hit by Brexit and Covid-19, Olivia Rubin London has never been stronger, growing 100 percent over the pandemic. “We seem to be getting more and more people on the website,” she says, pointing out that the brand was timely in its launch of a fashionable loungewear line over lockdown. It also came at a time when people gravitated towards the rainbow, which became a symbolic tribute to NHS workers. “People are drawn to the brand because it’s colourful, positive and high energy. That is what people wanted over lockdown. April and May 2020 were our biggest months.” Since lockdown restrictions were lifted,
she says people have been “excited to dress up”, adding: “But I think there will always be a space for loungewear. People are going to now be working from home more often. We have started to attract a different type of customer.” According to Olivia, social media has boosted the business. She revamped her brand after having children, through Instagram. After posting a picture wearing a rainbow skirt she made, Olivia was inundated with messages from influencers. The agencies, which got her brand into the flagship shops, soon followed.
“I wasn’t anticipating starting a brand,” Olivia says. “It was organically grown on social media. Influencers and everyday customers get more engagement than models. Even when I post pictures wearing my brand, I get engagement because I am not a size six model.” Olivia, who now works with an eight-strong team from the brand’s studio in Ladbroke Grove, never envisaged doing anything but working in fashion. As a child, she would watch her maternal artist grandfather, Willie Townsley, paint impressionist landscapes. Inspired by his work, she painted from a young age. “Because I was always into painting, drawing and illustrating, that also subconsciously made me aware of colour palettes and surface design,” she says. As a South Hampstead High School student, she was determined to pursue a career in fashion after learning more about textiles and screen printing. Her first garment, which she
showcased at the school fashion show, was a patchwork pink organza dress held together with elastic. At one stage, a teacher encouraged Olivia to pursue an English degree at university, but “my heart was set on fashion”, she says. She believes attending the highly competitive Central Saint Martins solidified her career and after a foundation course, she completed a Fashion Print BA at the worldrenowned arts and design college. While she thrived, she watched classmates drop out every term as a result of the deadlines and pressure. “If you do not work well under pressure, it is not for you.” The course gave Olivia the paid opportunity to train with designers at Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior in Paris. There, she designed a patchwork hat for John Galliano’s final show. After graduating in 2006, Olivia was given the opportunity to work with big brands. But she knew she wanted to launch her own line and went on to complete a business course at the London College of Fashion. While her father, Daniel Rubin, the founder and chief executive of the Dune London shoe brand, wanted her to join the business, she says she was keen “to do my own thing”. She went on to freelance and collaborated with high street designers including ASOS and Dorothy Perkins, before setting up her own brand with savings and a pre-order business model, “using deposits to fund cash flow”. A success, she went onto collaborate on interiors with brands sold on the Etsy platform. She did this for five years, before taking a break. In 2011, she got married to Ben Kaye, whom she had met at an RSY youth movement event in Golders Green 10 years earlier. She wore a white dress for the wedding at Western Marble Arch Synagogue, customising it with sequins and an extendable train. She had two looks – one with a shoulder covering for the chuppah and another for the party. She even designed her bridesmaid’s dusty pink dress. The couple now have two daughters and, speaking from her London home, Olivia says: “I still drop my kids to school every day and try to work from home so I can have a good balance and help them with their homework. I have taught the girls they can have their ambitions and fulfil them.” She even gets them involved in her work. “They are very artistic,” she says. “They are helping me out with a project I am launching this year.” @ oliviarubin
A BIT OF HEALTH
Brie Bailey tests out the stuff which makes a difference for all ages
Sorry to go on, but when you find a device that actually brings change to your face, you want to share the news. Even a break from using the NEWA daily doesn’t affect the effectiveness of this non-invasive home-use skin tightening machine that tightens lifts, plumps and brings a glow to skin. Shedding gathering ‘under the neck’ and jowls, which are typically surgical procedures, is something NEWA sculpts away in one or two sessions. Keep up the use and you will never look like Brando in The Godfather. Using it is easy as you just have to line the tip of the device with lift activator gel, turn on the pocket-sized gadget with its 3DEEP radio frequency technology and run it across your face and neck. The heat generated rebuilds collagen and elasticity, which is needed when you reach the menopause, so women of a certain age should seriously invest in the £299 starter kit. www.newabeauty.co.uk
FRUITY Got to get those apples in for Rosh and there are lots in new Nordic Roots Apple Complex Moisturiser, which is scentfree, organic and skin-calming as its filled with juicy apple cellular water, which boosts elasticity and gives a natural glow. It’s available for £25 from www.greenpeople. co.uk, the same company that has the brilliant Organic Children range for showers, shampooing and conditioning, which is spot on for sensitive skin prone to eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis and contains raspberry, vanilla and, of course, apples. It smells good enough to eat, but don’t let your children do that.
#FILTERFREEFRIDAY For some mummy and daughter fun during lockdown, Mill Hill-based make-up artist Brooke Simons and five-year-old Jess were taking selfies and playing around with funny filters on Brooke’s phone. Suddenly they landed on one that totally changed Jess’s face, plumping up her lips and slimming down her nose. “Wow, Mummy, I look beautiful!” Jess exclaimed and alarm bells went off for Brooke. “I felt I had messed up hugely by opening a door to the world of face-altering filters,” says Brooke. “What did Jess think about herself before she saw her face through a filter? Did she even think about her image at all?” Brooke realised that this was part of a much bigger problem. As a make-up artist, she is no stranger to using
50 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
Back up the good work you do with a NEWA device or Botox by using Emepelle Serum and Night Cream,, which is also targeted at menopausal skin. It’s a two-part regime that means not layering multiple skincare products and, having stuck to it religiously (no praying was involved), there is a visible difference in the tone and texture of my skin. The serum works under make-up in the day and the night cream contains retinol and niacinamide, which brightens, and peptides (whatever they are) which improves firmness. It’s not cheap at £263, but lasts for a very long time as you only use pea-size amounts. The problem is, now I’ve tried it, I’m not sure I want to just settle for alternatives, although the Embryolisse range, which is available at Boots and Superdrug, is hailed by make-up artists as a secret weapon, particularly the Embyolisse’s Lait-Creme Concentre, which is jammed with essential fatty acids and vitamins that nourish dryness and its eye cream used regularly even helps dreaded eyelid folds. Word has it that the £25 face ball from Face Gym (www.facegym.com) can also be used to deal with lined lids, by doing a tightening exercise (press the Face Ball to the outer corner of the eye – underneath the brow bone – lift up your skin to encourage the position, then, fiercely blink your eye 10 times). Think of it as yoga for your lids.
I was determined to resist purchasing anything from the Victoria Beckham beauty range on account of her clothing being too pricey and sized for the skinny. The Bitten Lip Tint (£32) broke me – and my budget – but provides a wash of colour I’ve not found in a lipstick/gloss before and it doubles up for use on cheeks. It also stays on and that’s not easy to do, but is essential if, like me, you still use a mask. Once I was in, I also spotted VB’s Satin Kajal Liner (£20 – I bought the bronze), which is creamy enough to smudge on the lashline and is highly pigmented so it doesn’t fade. Much like the Beckhams.
a flattering filter before posting on Instagram. “I use them without question – why wouldn’t I? Seeing yourself tweaked in ways you can’t even pinpoint is now an everyday occurrence for many,” she says. A few weeks later, she started the hashtag #FilterFreeFriday on Instagram to encourage her followers to post a selfie without a filter. With nearly 30,000 followers, hers is a powerful platform. Brooke is not advocating forgoing filters altogether either.. “It’s all about being mindful of what they’re doing to your selfesteem. It’s about finding a healthy and realistic balance and finding the confidence to show yourself. I believe that’s an important message to instil in our children. I look forward to the day that #FilterFreeFriday becomes #FilterFreeForever and I truly believe that we will get there.” Gymrachelle1@gmail.com, 07906 907087
GREEN CLINIC Recommendations are usually the way you find a good physio, and The Green Clinic in Edgware and Shenley gets mentioned a lot. Established in 2008, the team is led by Stephen Parkus, who worked as a senior physiotherapist at Watford General, BUPA Hospital Bushey and Chai Cancer Care before setting up his own practice. Also an acupuncturist and Pilates teacher,Stephen specialises in treating lower back and neck pain, and the effects of hypermobility in children and adults. The team at The Green Clinic, including Dana Frank and Judith Cohen, also treat all sporting injuries and ongoing niggles, whether from football, tennis, golf, ballet, horse riding or Zumba. Increasing mobility, strength and fitness is key in order to return to playing sport with the confidence that your previous injury won’t be a problem anymore. Testimonials about fixing all of those pesky injuries and more are on www.greenclinic.co.uk. To speak to Stephen or any of the team, call 020 8728 0625.
HONEY HELP Sore throats, gingivitis, bleeding gums, colds, mouth ulcers… it’s not a great list, but all these conditions are in need of the anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties in this Propolis throat spray for kids by Honey Heaven (£12), which is made from pure premium organic Hungarian honey, propolis and purified water. Honey bees use propolis for protecting larvae and themselves against microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungus) and to disinfectant their hive so just imagine what it can do for you and yours in the New Year. Chag sameach! www.honeyheaven.co.uk
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DELICIOUSLY Why stress this new year, when you can serve up these tasty, easy recipes, says Sarah Mann-Yeager Caramel Apple Sponge Pudding This is one of those magic puddings where the sauce is poured over the top of the all-inone batter that then rises as it cooks to cover the sauce. It’s ideal to make ahead and freeze although as it’s such a cinch to whip up, it’s perfect as a last-minute addition to the festive table.
9 x 9 x 3 inch/23 x 23 x 7cm baking dish or foil tray 800g large eating apples (approx 6) Juice and zest of ½lemon ½ – 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) 250g plain flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 125g golden caster sugar
150ml – 200ml dairy, nut or oat milk 150g unsalted butter or margarine, softened 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 125g light brown or muscovado sugar 125ml golden syrup or honey 300ml water Parev or dairy ice cream to serve
Preheat oven to 180ºC, 170ºC fan. Grease the inside of the baking dish or foil tray and then peel, core and slice the apples into 1cm thick slices into the tin. Mix in the juice and zest of half a lemon and the cinnamon if using, and spread in an even layer. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the golden caster sugar, 150ml milk, softened butter or margarine, eggs and vanilla and beat until combined and then spread over the apples. If the batter seems stiff, add a little more of the milk. Place the muscovado sugar, golden syrup/honey and water into a non-stick saucepan, stir to combine and allow the sugar to melt over a medium heat. Bring to the boil without stirring and, as soon as it is boiling, pour it over the sponge mixture. Place the tin on a baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. You may need to cover the top of the pudding with foil after about 35-40 minutes if it is browning too quickly. Check the sponge is cooked by inserting a cocktail stick into the centre of the sponge – it should come out clean.
Poulet Normande A delicious, seasonal and time-saving recipe, as the entire dish is cooked in one pan or on an oven tray. For family suppers for four, I use a large Le Creuset sauté pan, but for a crowd I use the grill tray as a base for a deep foil tray and add a sheet of baking parchment, which makes clean-up a doddle; just toss the bones onto the used paper/foil combo, bring the sides to the middle, scrunch it into a parcel and toss it into the bin. A clean pan and no scrubbing!
2–3 firm tart eating apples, cored and sliced 2 tablespoons plain oil – sunflower, vegetable etc 50g margarine 4 bottom quarters or 8 x chicken thighs with skin and bone Flour for dredging 2 medium onions, cut into slim wedges
2 bay leaves 3-4 sprigs of thyme 75ml brandy or calvados or cider/apple juice freshly ground black pepper 250-300ml cider or cloudy apple juice 150ml chicken stock 1-2 tablespoons cornflour or Alpro parev cream
Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC. Cut, core and slice the apples into 2cm wedges (peeling is optional). Heat a large casserole over a medium heat and add half the oil and margarine. Lay the apples in a single layer and allow them to cook and brown a little at the edges, turning occasionally for approximately five to eight minutes. Remove and put the apples on a plate. Add the rest of the fat to the pan. Dredge the chicken in some seasoned flour, shake off the excess and brown in the pan until deep golden. Remove the legs to a plate and then add the onion and allow to soften and gently caramelise along with the bay leaves and the thyme. When the onions are softly golden, deglaze the pan by adding the brandy but stand back as it may spit a little. Scrape up with a wooden spoon all the delicious caramelised bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan to incorporate them into the sauce. Add a good grinding of black pepper. Add the cider/apple juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil. At this point, either decant the onion mixture into a foil tray and top with the chicken, or add the chicken back to the pan and place it in the oven for 1-1.5 hours until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp. Remove the pan/tray from the oven and remove the chicken. Place the chicken in another dish in a single layer and put it back in the oven to keep warm. Bring the onion and sauce mixture to a boil and reduce by approximately half. Thicken the mixture with either a little cornflour slaked with cold water or some Alpro parev cream until you achieve a coating consistency. Add the apples back to the pan and allow to heat through. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce on a plate and top with the chicken and serve alongside some rice or mash and a green vegetable of your choice. LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 53
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE JEWISH
– BUT IT H
A little thing like a pandemic did not stop these Jewish restaurateurs launching their new venues. Brave, mad or just passionate? Probably a little of each but one thing’s for sure, there’s so much more to Jewish-owned restaurants than chicken soup and salt beef By Louisa Walters
Keff, previously an online shop selling colourful Mediterranean dips and salads, has opened a deli site in Camden Market. Yoram Janowski created Keff during lockdown together with his business partner, Adi Frost, a childhood friend and a former TV director specialising in food programmes. They delivered their hugely popular dips all over north London and gained a cult following. The deli dishes up toasties with a Middle Eastern twist, salads, soups and dips and you can also buy the dips to take home. The whole menu is vegetarian, with plenty for vegans too, and there is some outdoor seating. On a visit to Kasa (kosher) in Hampstead Garden Suburb this summer, full of chatter and bonhomie , I felt Tel Aviv seeping into my system. One look at the menu took me all the way there. I feasted (portions are huge!) on lamb shakshuka, a shawarma plate with salad and jacun (no, me neither – Moroccan roasted vegetable ‘mush’ that is absolutely delicious) and the most outstanding aubergine dish. It’s described as ‘carpaccio’ and presents as smoky aubergine with date syrup, tahini and pine nuts. Unreal. The chef brought us a new dish he’d been working on – roasted kholrabi with truffle. Some of these dishes would not be out of place at the Palomar/Coal Office. No need to schlep there as this is superb.
Kasa 54 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
There’s more Tel Aviv style at Chameleon at One Marylebone. This new and beautifully styled al fresco concept also has nine gorgeous greenhouses for semi-indoor seating. There’s live music at the weekends. Israeli chef Elior Balbul has headed up various kitchens in TA before moving to New York and now London. The dishes are as innovative and exciting as the décor, there’s live music at the weekends
and a fantastic party atmosphere pervades. Check out yellowtail sashimi with buttermilk yuzu curd; chargrilled romanesco steak with a black lentil salad; stuffed cabbage with baby leeks and black garlic… you get the idea.
Tomer Vanunu of El Vaquero fame opened his new venture Numa in Mill Hill Broadway just before the December lockdown and had to shut up shop sharply two weeks later. Since reopening, the punters have been pouring back in to feast on Israeli chef Emil’s innovative dishes, such as spicy feta brulée, avocado shawarma taco, fish shawarma and a halva chocolate mousse. Check out the Sephardic Friday night dinner feast menu. Almost 20 years after the opening of the first Ottolenghi, the brand has finally come to central London and opened on Marylebone Lane. The décor is in a similar vein to the Ottolenghi
T Helps original branch in Islington, with a few added elements from Rovi – such as travertine floors and touches of oak. There is a no-reservations communal dining area and a couple of tables and chairs out front too. For breakfast, the kitchen offers up a concise menu featuring the famous Ottolenghi shakshuka, and daily changing salads and optional mains are available from 11am onwards. The sweet treats counter is a must on any visit to Ottolenghi! Moishe’s Bagelry The lovable team and Bakery behind Nana Fanny’s salt beef have opened a traditional Jewish bakery stall in Borough market – the only one within the borough of Southwark. Moishe’s Bagelry and Bakery is sure to become the destination for local Jewish people (and those visiting the market) to buy their challah, platzels, cheese buns, lokshen pudding and much, much more. As Borough Market is now open on Sundays, there’s no reason not to get there. Make mine a marbled rye bread. Japanese-Israeli fusion might not seem an obvious concept but at JIJI in Islington that’s what’s on the menu. A collaboration between a Jewish-led investment firm and Janina Wolkow, founder of Sumosan, JIJI dishes up Japanese and Israeli cuisine. Inspired by frequent travels to Tel Aviv, Janina has created dishes showcasing her two favourite cuisines, demonstrating how they can complement Numa
The Engine Rooms
JIJI each other perfectly. Highlights from the menu include roast cauliflower with jalapeno sauce, ‘perfect egg’ with truffle polenta, flamed aubergine with tahini jalapeno and a selection of sushi dishes. One of the chefs is ex-Palomar. You know the Hexagon Classics garage in East Finchley? Owner Paul Michaels has opened a stunning restaurant (and deli) on the site. The Engine Rooms has masses of both indoor and outdoor space and a mezzanine for semi-private dining, plus a gorgeous bar area. All the cars are there, too, so this is a really unique experience. The Mediterranean-style
Korner Kitchen all-day dining concept has a specific focus on fish and vegetables (although there is some lamb) – and there is pizza! The pastry chef comes from Brown’s hotel so desserts are a real treat – apricot frangipane pudding with orange blossom Breton and clotted cream sounds amazing. Wine curator and author Bert Blaize from Le Manoir has put together the list and also lined the shelves of the onsite deli, Bottles ‘n’ Jars. This is the most amazing venue for drinks overlooking the incredible cars, followed by relaxed lunch or dinner in the heated and covered courtyard or the stunning and very cool interior with incredible motoringrelated art. Most importantly, you can park right outside the door!
Tuk Tuk in Golders Green (kosher) is an Asian concept from the people behind Soyo, Pita and Hot Cut. Inspired by the street food of Vietnam, Thailand and India, this is hearty food with a party mood (that means cocktails!). From Banh Mi sandwiches to beef curries and plenty in between, this is a standout addition to the kosher food scene in north London. Tuk Tuk
Adam Zeitlin and the team behind MyKoco have opened Korner Kitchen, a kosher food hall at Canon’s Corner. Comprising three brands – DimKo, MexiKo and YamiKo – there are dim sum, Mexican and Japanese dishes to grab and go or eat in. LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 55
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A matter of
Remembering the departed is an intrinsic part of Yom Kippur. Brigit Grant, Abbie Mitchell and Lauren Rosenberg share their experiences of loss, mourning and Yizkor
Life Death Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba b’alma di v’ra chir’utei; v’yamlich malchutei b’hayeichon u-v’yomeichon, uv’hayei d’chol beit yisrael, ba-agala u-vi-z’man kariv, v’imru amen.
ov ac Kr
One singular sensation
he landline doesn’t ring in our house any more. Apart from nuisance cold callers, the phone is silent and frozen in time. A time when at 5pm on weekdays my mother rang to check in, as she also did most mornings, apologising for waking me. Adverse to mobiles – her own was a model of simplicity – she always called my home number, but the phone is now just a symbol of her absence because she
died on 9 June. Lost. Insentient. Broken. This is how I feel since she passed – a fact I’ve yet to accept, as I’m waiting for her wake-up call. For her questions about my day. For her spontaneous visits to drop in soup or world-class lasagne. To check the dogs’ water bowls were full. Yes, she was the kind of woman who majored in motherhood, but was also a best friend. When my father drowned in Israel on 6 October 1989, Yom Kippur fell two days later. With my mother and sister still in the Holy Land, the holiest day of the
year became an anomaly and my sobbing drowned out Shacharit at my uncle’s synagogue in Chingford. He thought it would help to go, but it didn’t as the words ‘G’mar Chatimah Tovah’ were hollow. The Book of Life had closed for my father. Culturally Jewish and respectful of High Holy Days, my father never missed Yizkor for his own dad, while for us, as children, the mystery 20 minutes was an escape route to join friends outside and, after years of saying Kaddish for my father, I still long to be outside. But then Carole and Geoffrey Grant on their wedding day
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Carole was dearly loved by her family and many friends
my mother was always beside me, poised to hear his name. Knowing both their names will be said this Yom Kippur has turned out the light inside me and the dual flames of the Yahrzeit candles will illuminate the grief. The last time the names Carole and Geoffrey were coupled in a service was when they married on 18 March 1962 at Dennington Park Road Synagogue. He was 23 from Stamford Hill and pretended to be a marine biologist when they met, while she was a 19-year-old trendsetter who caused a stir in her short bridal gown. Their wedding album was one of many albums to view at the shiva, which was held in the tent originally intended for my daughter’s batmitzvah that was cancelled by Covid. Booked for a celebration, it became a marquee draped in misery for five nights of eulogies although, in honour of my mother, the ultimate hostess, there was food, flowers and show tunes. Even Rabbi Mark Goldsmith of Edgware & Hendon Reform Synagogue adapted a prayer to her beloved Marvin Hamlisch’s One
Singular Sensation, which is what she will always be. No one is at ease around death and my mother knew my terror too well. Bleak and without blooms, the starkness of a levaya is torturous and I call for a change in the unforgivingness of Jewish burial rituals. Dispense with the speed to get things done and allow the bereaved sufficient time to hone worthy tributes. Through loss, one gets to see the best and worst of people, but the ‘too busy to care’ are shamed by a supportive and compassionate core of family, friends and for us the EHRS rabbis and Ari Cohen at West End Great Synagogue. That others understand won’t make Yom Kippur easier as Yizkor brings tears. But so do the shoes my mother bought me, The Sound of Music, a mention of Strictly Come Dancing and the ring on my finger that my father was wearing when he drowned that my mother then never took off. I’ve never wanted a piece of jewellery less. Mum’s Tupperware is washed and ready to return. I’m just praying for her to collect it. Or for the landline to ring.
Chai Cancer rescue Caring is what we do best as a community and a remarkable example of this is the work done by Chai Cancer Care. Writing about what it does is very different to experiencing it first-hand, as only then does one see the commitment to supporting patients and their families. The speed of my mother’s death did not allow for her to visit Chai, but the charity has since offered regular counselling and provided a music therapist for my daughter, who finds solace in song. Finding the right counsellor is what Chai strives for, and the willingness to just chat with an individual in moments of extreme sorrow is the greatest gift it could give. www.chaicancercare.org
‘My mum lit up a room’
Abbie with her mum, Shelley, above. Right: Abbie on her wedding day
Abbie Mitchell was 14 when her mother, Shelley, took her own life. Shelley had suffered with depression and, unbeknown to Abbie, had made previous attempts on her life. Abbie, now 31, has herself experienced mental health issues and is an activist and peer mentoring manager for a youth charity as well as running her own consultancy in the charity sector. “When my mum took her own life, it was one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to me. We had been very close, and my own mental health took a turn. I got into the world of mental health, grief and suicide awareness. It’s why I do what I do now, raising awareness so we can help more people. “My mum suffered with depression throughout her life, from when she was fairly young, but the thing with suicide is there’s no closure. You can spend a long time trying to work out what the reason was, but there’s no answer. She had a lot of unhappiness, but also had a lot of joy. She was a lovely, bubbly, outgoing woman who loved music and dancing. She lit up a room – that’s what people would say about her. I’ve never quite felt love like that. “I remember her as a really happy, lovely person and a really great mum.
She had been a beautician but became a mother full-time when all of us were young. You wouldn’t really put her in the bracket of struggling – and that’s the thing about mental health, you can’t always tell by looking at someone. “I’m not religious and I don’t go to synagogue, but I do light a candle for Yizkor, on her birthday and for her Yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death. It’s symbolic and a way of thinking about her a little bit more on those days – just
having her in the room through the light of the candle and remembering the light that she was in our lives. “The thing with grief is that it can hit at any time – it’s not always just in the immediate aftermath. And it could be that some days, such as anniversaries, birthdays or big life events will sting more than others, and the person will be missing even more. And by lighting a candle, it feels warm, like you’re connecting a bit more with that person LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 59
on those days. I have some of my mum’s clothes and that also connects me. If I feel I want to be particularly close to her for that day, I will wear something of hers.
“To me, those days do hold importance. Everyone who grieves is different – some might want to forget about it or want distraction. But for me, I tend to feel them. I think it’s part of my grief journey and remembering my mum. “Many years, the days leading up to her anniversary I find quite difficult. It’s a very sad day, with what happened and how my life turned upside-down. There are significant days, such as Suicide Prevention Day, on 10 September, which is really important for raising awareness, but depending on how the media is reporting, it can be quite challenging sometimes. It’s good that people are talking about suicide, but for me, it’s not just one day – it’s forever that we should pay attention to people’s mental health and struggle. “I definitely felt the loss when I got married and when I had a baby.
My mother’s favourite flower was the sunflower so when I got married, I filled my wedding with sunflowers – they were everywhere – and I had pictures of her too. And I’m going to do something now for my son, possibly also something with sunflowers, to bring her into his life somehow. I’m quite passionate about that. “I run peer support groups and get people talking about grief; we’re going to be having these conversations because loss is a part of life and it shouldn’t be a topic that is taboo. Death is huge, but there can be some profound things that come out of it – it doesn’t always have to be all doom and gloom. And as much as I might experience sadness or triggering times, those days are also a chance for reflection, for remembering memories and a chance to talk about where I’m at with my grief.” www.abbiesmind.com
‘I’m so grateful I had my daughter’
Fear and phobia expert Lauren Rosenberg with daughter Liora
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Lauren Rosenberg’s daughter, Liora, died suddenly in April 2016, aged 20. The former JFS pupil, who grew up with four sisters, worked as a holistic therapist, an artist and teaching assistant. She enjoyed helping others and was known as having a very positive spirit. She spent 12 days on life support after being hospitalised with a bleed on the brain and contracting pneumonia in hospital. A fundraising campaign in Liora’s name raised just under £50,000 towards a Hatzola ambulance vehicle. Lauren is a fear and phobia expert. “I had gone shopping with Liora and one of her sisters to buy paint and canvas. Art was a very big part of Liora’s life and she was starting a new project. We went to Starbucks, which she loved, and she got her favourite drink but then, a few hours later, she started feeling unwell. She was rushed to hospital and the doctors did some tests and told us she had a bleed on her brain. They had to do more tests but, unfortunately, she caught pneumonia and they had to put her under sedation. “It’s not normal to lose your child or to bury your child before your parents or grandparents – you wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But the way I see it, you don’t actually die – death is not black and white. It’s not like you lose everything; you lose what is familiar to you – the physical part – but you still have communication in a different way. “Liora is still here, but in a different form. I can close my eyes and still feel I can talk to her if I want – I don’t need to go to the cemetery to do that. A soul
never dies; energy is still here – energy never dies. “I believe everything happens for a reason, but we may not know the reason yet, and there’s a reason why Liora had to go at that specific time. I still say I have five daughters and I will always have five daughters – I just have one in a special place, and four in this world. “On the Hebrew date of her Yahrzeit, we all go to the cemetery to acknowledge that it’s the day of transition, the day on which we lost her in her physical form. “We always spend time together as a family. Some of us also want to commemorate the English date – we’ll go to Liora’s grave then, too, and take colourful stones, and we’ll talk about her. When it’s her birthday, we go to a restaurant and celebrate her life. We’ll either make a cake or blow out candles to acknowledge her because she’s still very much with us, just in a different way. “The name ‘Liora’ means ‘light’ and she was definitely a light. I always light Friday night candles for all my children and, of course, when it’s Liora’s yahrzeit – we have to acknowledge that the body she was in is no longer here. “You can’t deal with grief without working on yourself and seeing someone – whatever therapy works for you. People think they can bury their emotions, but they can’t because they will come out in other ways. In a Jewish life, we learn, we go to shiurim, we work on ourselves – it’s the same thing with grief, it’s about learning about yourself. And a really important part of being able to move forward is to be thankful and grateful
for what we have, and not to hold onto anger and resentment and those negative emotions that are not going to help anyone. “I can honestly say I’m so grateful I had my daughter, even if it was just for 20 years, but it was a process getting to this stage. Every time something happened that was a first – for example, the first birthday without her or the first Yom Tov – was harder. People will say ‘oh you’ll get used to it’, but it’s not a question of getting used to it, it’s a question of adjusting and knowing that it is different. You don’t get over it. Time doesn’t really help because Liora is not going to come back, she’s still not going to be here in the physical sense. You just adjust and you get on with your life because you have no other choice. “I appreciate every single day and don’t take things for granted. I appreciate dropping my child off at school, picking them up, those type of things… because I can’t do that with Liora; I can’t take her somewhere. So if I’m driving my child to school and I’m stuck in traffic, I couldn’t care less because to me it’s still a privilege that I can physically take them to school. “All the mitzvahs we’ve been doing, including creating the ambulance that is saving life, are in memory of Liora and for her soul. Liora compiled a book to help others – 355 Positive Affirmations for Teenagers – and would coach people to follow their dreams, including staff at the Starbucks branches she would go to. She had an impact on others and still does.” Lauren Rosenberg can be contacted via www.fear-busters.com
Wishing all our clients a Happy New Year from all the staff at B&K Deli Edgware Hatch End and Tongue & Briskett In Good Street / Leather Lane & Waldor Street
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IMMANUEL COLLEGE SIXTH FORM
INTO THE SIXTH FORM -VIRTUAL EVENTThursday 2nd September, 7:30pm To register or for more information, please email Mrs Sarah Greenfield, Head of Admissions at:
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Year 7 2022 Admissions Open Now
THE JEWISH SCHOOL HEADS REFLECT ON THE PAST AND LOOK TO THE FUTURE.
Patrick Moriarty, headteacher of JCoSS, believes the impact of the pandemic on individuals is a story yet to be told, but he can see a silver lining
f you want to make Hashem laugh, they say, set out your plans. For 5782, just setting out your term dates might do the trick. The month of September affords only five full school days in four school weeks, as if either the Almighty did not deign to look ahead or – even after the assorted disruptions of the past 18 months – there are divine priorities even more important than a smooth start to the academic year. You decide. In truth, the rhythms of the Jewish calendar lend themselves well to the patterns of self-evaluation in schools. As in life, so in education, Tishrei is the time to reflect on the previous year’s “what went wells” and “even better ifs”. As in life, so in education, the outcomes we choose to spotlight will determine our evaluations and the plans we make for the future. Schools typically look at metrics from results or recruitment, attendance or admissions, budget or behaviour, but in a year when nothing was typical, a different set might be more suitable. What was the impact on safeguarding concerns, for instance, or extracurricular provision; what changed in voluntary contributions, perhaps, or in the use of supply teachers to cover absence? Those are all valid things to count, and they reflect the sort of experiences reported among Jewish schools in the past year. But often what counts most in the ruach of a school is things that can’t be counted, or at least not precisely. One thing we have lost count of is the number of times we’ve used the word ‘unprecedented’. It’s been a tough time for all involved in schools – staff, students or parents – and, like everyone else, we have done a lot of making a lot of things up as we have gone along. That makes for constant change and uncertainty, often cited as enemies of well-being, but it also throws us all into doing things that unexpectedly turn out to be rather a
good idea. Top of the bill for things we wish we had tried long ago are online parents’ evenings. It’s hard to find a teacher or a parent anywhere who now wants to go back to the queues, sharp elbows, passive-aggressive tutting and general aggravation of the traditional consultation evening. There’s one item that has been on my ‘to-do’ list since 2013 that can at last be ticked off. Another is the vague sense that we really ought to explore the potential of online learning – you know, just in case. Not just lessons, but meetings of disparate colleagues or governors, or with busy parents, even across continents and time zones, are a standard part of the repertoire that will be here to stay, at least as part of a mixed economy. Some fear that in the process we have killed off that rare serendipitous treat, the Snow Day. We’ll have to think about that. Perhaps it is the vantage point of the summer holidays, but the more I look, the more silver linings I perceive. Separate year group bubbles were a monumental irritation – sometimes cutting swathes out of classroom time to facilitate the choreography of lesson changeover. We are all glad to see that go (it was informally dubbed ‘the fandango’ at JCoSS), but we’ll keep the lanyards that identify what year students are in, and the separation of playgrounds, which led to marked improvements in lunchtime behaviour. That horror of horrors, the ‘staggered lunchtime’ also moved from the ‘over my dead body’ category to the ‘well, needs must…’ category: there, too, we might seek a middle way that reduces the carnage of 1,300 Jewish teenagers in simultaneous quest for food, but is less disruptive of extracurricular activities. Even in the darkest depths of last year, it is possible to see points of brightness. The devastating increase in safeguarding concerns (in some schools five-fold) has prompted a rethink of the structures needed to respond to the mental and
emotional pressures on young people. The shame of Everyone’s Invited has forced schools to confront demons hiding in plain sight, and to start giving a voice to things previously unspoken. As across society, so in schools, the pandemic has exaggerated pre-existing difficulties and gaps, and none of these silver linings can obscure the real hardships and tragedies that have been endured. There is irredeemable loss and grief that will play out in all sorts of ways in the months and years ahead. The long-term impact on the psyche of society and of individuals is a story yet to be told. I expect that impact to fall unevenly – and to affect teachers as well as those they teach. It would not be a surprise if the past 18 months has hastened departures from the profession, especially at the most senior level (literally no headteacher I know seems able to recall that module where they taught you how to cope in a global pandemic). But it would also not be a surprise if others have discovered talents or capacities they did not know were there. That is why I still want to resist talk of a ‘traumatised generation’. Not only does such terminology risk bringing about the very thing it wants to avoid, but it is also not a true reflection of the schools I know. The resourcefulness, ingenuity and indomitability of students and colleagues has been miraculous, and that gives me enormous hope for the future, not just for schools but for what will be achieved by the leaders of tomorrow who are currently being formed within them. So, somewhat battered but unbowed, we continue to plan, to reflect on past shortcomings in a spirit of learning, to look for sweetness in the academic year ahead. One metric stands out for me from 5781, namely a marked increase in expressions of gratitude from parents and students alike. That speaks of a deepening of partnership, an appreciation of shared values and a world built on kindness. It’s enough to bring a smile to the face of Hashem. LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 63
EDUCATION Gary Griffin, headmaster of Immanuel College, assesses the state of his school in the wake of the pandemic
here is no doubt that the recent pandemic has caused many issues for all schools – both during periods of lockdown and when pupils and teachers have been able to attend classes face-to-face, with the constant threat of self-isolation when positive Covid cases are identified. As an independent school, Immanuel College has worked closely with the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), liaising with its fellow London division colleagues who have provided support and guidance to heads and senior leaders as government regulations change frequently and at short notice. Schools in the private sector have had to readjust as parents have found it increasingly difficult to pay fees – including staff members having to take pay cuts and in some cases face furloughing. Like every other school dealing with Covid and its various effects, Immanuel has had to respond to a wide range of varied needs. Mental health concerns have risen and we have supported individuals in a variety of ways. One of the three pillars of Immanuel College is that of excellent pastoral care and we have certainly sought to guide our form tutors, heads of section, pupil wellbeing advisor and school counsellors. In addition to this, we
have the wonderful Mind Matters Committee to provide information from a pupil perspective and they have put together several assemblies this year on how to deal with social interactions online. While in lockdown, pupils were called by their form tutors and/or heads of section for regular check-ins, some by phone and others via Teams, with permission from parents. We continue to gather information to guide our provision from wellbeing surveys, and these are now a regular feature in the calendar for all year groups. When one of our learning support assistants sadly died as a result of Covid, extra (bereavement) counselling was offered to colleagues and pupils. Covid aside, we have also developed various resources in response to ‘Everyone’s Invited’ the most successful of which was a series of workshops on sexual harassment and abuse. These allowed pupils to engage with the material and concepts in a safe environment, while also giving opportunities for each group (split by sex on this occasion) to feedback to the other. The feedback from these sessions has been very positive and we look forward to delivering further workshops. As a head master during this demanding period, I have felt the stress and pressure more than at any other time in my teaching career, which spans forty years. It comes as no surprise to me that so many heads and teachers have decided that now is the time to retire or leave the profession. Despite platitudes from the Education
Secretary, there has been little understanding of the part played by educational professionals during the pandemic and another pay freeze for the coming academic year simply adds insult to injury. We at Immanuel have responded to the needs of our pupils (and staff) during this period of challenge and increased stress. It is with appreciation and thanks to all involved that we have coped remarkably well in these circumstances and we look forward to more regular routines when the new academic year begins in September. We understand that coronavirus is not over and that serious issues remain, but we feel we are in a good position to support our community and face the future with confidence.
For the founders of Gesher, expanding into secondary education is a dream come true
esher School was connected to real-world activities, established to provide projects and themes. The second will a specialist, meaningful be an emphasis on and functional learning wellbeing, therapeutic environment for children support, independent with special educational skills development, needs (SEN) who cannot be and self-advocacy. appropriately supported in Learning at Gesher our community’s mainstream builds from the school. Ali Durban strengths and passions The school opened in 2017 of young people, enhances as a unique primary special Sarah Sultman self-esteem and efficacy, equips school. It has specialism in language, communication them to relate well to others and and social pragmatic difficulties with a focus on (but provides the purpose and ambition for fulfilment not exclusively) autism spectrum challenges (ASC). and success in life. For the past four years, our home has been The Hope The school will open with one secondary school Centre in Willesden, where we have been very happy. class and grow organically year on year until the One year after opening, Gesher achieved an Ofsted school reaches full capacity in Year 5 with up to 120 rating of ‘outstanding’ in all areas. It is now full with children. The new all-through (secondary) school will 40 children, with waiting lists for every class, and have small class sizes and build upon the practice of demand for our school has greatly exceeded the space. the primary school. This September, Gesher will therefore relocate It will deliver a forward-thinking, multito a new site and expand into secondary education, therapeutic curriculum designed by leading becoming an all-through school for 120 children and educationalists. The curriculum will have therapy young people (aged four to 16). This is vital for their woven into it and is personalised and tailored to each growth, providing them with a clear educational and every child and young person’s learning style. pathway. Teachers and therapy teams will work together to In the creation of the secondary school, we have ensure young people have specific targets they are reimagined the way children and young people with working towards and that outcomes are split into SEN are educated. Some things will be unique at academics, work and world-related learning, social and Gesher School. The first will be the ways in which emotional, life skills and physical. learning happens and is assessed – in and out of Learning will take place in the school, in the the classroom, within and beyond the school and community and through internships in the workplace.
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Life skills and wellbeing sit at the core of the school, ensuring children have access to a range of mindfulness tools and a life skills framework that develops their mental health and emotional wellbeing and ensures they are working towards independence. Community and relationships play a strong part of the school’s culture. We want our children to support each other and form meaningful friendships. Following an incredible crowdfunding campaign in the summer of 2021, we have been able to begin work on what will be our new home: a wonderful three acre site in Pinner, formerly the home of Moriah primary school. The Harrow Jewish Day School Trust has given us the opportunity to reuse an existing community asset but to develop and change it, to make it into a state-of- the-art, multifunctional community space equipped to educate our pupils from primary through to secondary. Shana tova from Gesher. For information on admissions and entry requirements visit www.gesherschool.com
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Micaela Blitz speaks to three dynamic couples taking on leadership roles around the country Rabbi and Rebbetzin Hambling When Yossi and Channah Hambling began their new roles as Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Birmingham Central United Synagogue in July, it was the first time they had met any of their congregation in real life. Owing to the pandemic and travel restrictions, the couple, who were completing their studies in Israel, underwent the whole recruitment process via Zoom. With Rabbi Yossi completing his semicha earlier this year, this is the couple’s first rabbinic post, and they have been impressed with the synagogue’s commitment to Torah education, services and community welfare. He says they “look forward to working with the community to enhance and innovate in these areas, turning the challenges of the last year into opportunities for meaningful growth and development”. This dynamic couple have been involved in helping their local communities since they were teenagers. Rabbi Yossi, who grew up in Ilford, Essex, was responsible for reviving the local branch of Bnei Akiva (BA) and continued running this until finishing Hasmonean High School, while The Hamblings of Birmingham United Finchley-born Rebbetzin Channah ran her local branch of BA based at Woodside Park Synagogue for two years. The couple moved to Israel as part of a Mizrachi UK Rabbinic Fellowship after Rabbi Yossi completed his degree in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL, returning to the UK to take up their new roles in the Midlands. Rebbetzin Channah is currently a stay-at-home mum to their daughter, Temimah, but has a diploma in fashion design and a bachelor’s degree in fashion, which she plans to put to good use. As a keen knitter, with experience in retail and administration, she plans to start her own business producing knitted headbands, hats and scarves.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shindler Rabbi Meir and Rebbetzin Rina Shindler are preparing to say farewell to Richmond United Synagogue and take up their new roles at Cockfosters and North Southgate United Synagogue later this year. They replace Rabbi Daniel and Rebbetzin Ilana Epstein, who recently moved to Western Marble Arch Synagogue. Like the Hamblings, their appointment was also partly conducted over Zoom. “Being interviewed virtually made it more difficult to show our true personalities to some extent, but it also felt less intense than being in the same room, which was probably a good thing,” says Rabbi Shindler. It obviously worked, as the couple were overwhelmingly voted in and join the community in November. Rabbi Meir started his career as Associate Rabbi at Chigwell and Hainault Synagogue in Essex, where his main focus was working with young families, while at Richmond United, he created the Richmond Jewish Community Hub, an inclusive education and cultural centre serving the south-west London community. He has always loved engaging with young families and youth, and part of his interview process included his plans to reinvigorate the congregation in a post-lockdown world. “Before Covid, the intention was always to bring people into synagogue, but that has changed and we have been able to bring shul to people in their own homes. I think this period has magnified the need to understand that taking the community to Judaism and Judaism to the community are equally important.” Originally from New York, Rebbetzin Rina has a degree in psychology and an MSc in clinical sociology and family counselling, as well as teaching qualifications. As a community rebbetzin, she has been involved in educational projects, as well as teaching batmitzvah girls, which she plans to continue doing. She is also clinical manager for Noa Girls, a charity providing emotional, practical and therapeutic support to Orthodox adolescent women. The couple, along with their four children, have forged many “cherished friendships” during their tenure at Richmond, and hope to do the same in Cockfosters. Introducing the Shindlers
Cantor Tamara Wolfson
Rabbi Anna Posner and Cantor Tamara Wolfson For newly-weds Cantor Tamara Wolfson and Rabbi Anna Posner, the past 18 months has been full of change. Back in April 2020, Tamara started as cantor of Alyth Synagogue in Temple Fortune, while in November of that year, newly-ordained Rabbi Anna took on not one, but two new roles. She is now the rabbi at Norwich Liberal Jewish Community and Progressive Jewish student chaplain at Beit Kial Yisrael supporting Jewish students on Rabbi Anna Posner campuses throughout the country. Added to this, the couple’s wedding was postponed three times because of the pandemic, before they were finally able to marry in July in Nottingham, Rabbi Anna’s home town. Covid also affected the way the couple could interact with their new communities. When Cantor Tamara started her cantor role, she was unable to even sing alongside the congregation as services were virtual. “It was strange to meet the whole community just from the shoulders up, but being able to connect with people via Zoom at a time when singing altogether in public was not allowed was a great comfort for them and for me too,” she explains. For Rabbi Anna, her role as a student chaplain has also been challenging, with so many students not studying on campus, or unable to leave their halls, she felt it was important to be available to Reform Jewish students. She contacted all first-year students to ‘check in’ on their well-being and offer help where possible. Her position at Norwich Liberal Jewish Community is significant for her and the community as this is her first rabbinic role since graduating from Leo Baeck College and the community has not had a rabbi for more than five years. Rabbi Anna’s vision is to build that community and create an environment based on “inclusivity and tolerance alongside togetherness”, just as she herself experienced growing up in the small Jewish community in Nottingham. LIFE jewishnews.co.uk 67
Crouching Tiger Hidden Rabbi Who knew yoga, meditation and martial arts play an important part in modern Orthodoxy? Kari Colmans finds out more
Judaism. “Meditation is an attitude of the mind. When we id you ever hear the one about the downwardbring awareness to our thoughts, speech and actions, we are facing rabbi? Us neither. But the punchline is: practising mindfulness; the rabbis teach us to do just that. You’re behind with the rabbinic times. When you tap into your essential nature, you’ll find religion As more embrace a wide range of holistic and physical and spirituality there, because that’s where it resides.” practises to further strengthen their spiritual connection to While he accepts there are countless opinions on whether Judaism, progressive ideas about what constitutes kosher or not meditation is compatible with Jewish life, he reasons and non-kosher observance are coming to the fore. these are all academic or philosophical positions that all fail to And while some naysayers might claim these mystic capture ‘the reality of a Jew meditating’. practices don’t sit right with Orthodox Judaism, there are a “There is an Aramaic expression from the Talmud, puk growing number of religious leaders who believe such things hazi, which means ‘go out and see’. This expression is used to might just help bring you closer to God. ground the discussion in objective reality and avoid endless Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Gigi (pictured, top right), author debate. And in my experience, which is supported by research, of 28 Jewelled Crown: A Comprehensive System of Jewish Meditation and Mysticism, practices a form of radical Chasidism meditation increases one’s spirituality. If it comes in a Jewish container, it opens one up to the Jewish experience.” and meditates daily. Seeking alternatives is something with which English Rabbi His wife, a trained yoga teacher, encouraged him to go to Dov Ber Cohen is also familiar. After graduating with a degree yeshiva after they married and lived in Israel, where they had a in philosophy from Manchester University, he travelled around chance to explore different Jewish and Torah cultures. A short Asia for six years where he took part in a number of silent stint on a vegan farm (a far cry from his Golders Green home) meditation and yoga retreats as well as learning martial arts. then awakened in him a love for nature and meditation. Acquiring a black belt in the Korean martial art of As well as being a fervent collector of crystals, Rabbi taekwondo and a brown belt in Japanese aikido, the rabbi, Gigi leads online courses, group workshops and retreats in who now lives in Israel and works for Aish Israel, also trained in meditation, as well as offering well-being coaching. His brand shaolin, a form of Chinese kung fu. “I really understood that in of religious mindfulness, Maayan Hatum (meaning hidden order to live the most meaningful life I possibly could, I needed spring, and refers to our ‘essential nature’) provides a centre to push myself in the realms of mind, body and soul,” he says. for a more contemplative, reflective Judaism, and a forum for revitalising Jewish spiritual life through education, community, “I realised very early on that mastering my own mind and discipline was the key to a happy and extraordinary life.” and offering spaces and opportunities for meditative practice. After his time in Asia, Rabbi Dov Ber had planned a trip As we talk over Zoom, Rabbi Gigi says that the meditation down the Amazon but ended up stopping in Israel for a few |he promotes is firmly rooted within traditional Judaism. weeks, where he started to study Judaism. Before long he “It comes from a book called the Book of Formation, Sefer decided to commit his life to it, while still keeping up with Yetzirah,” he says. “This is the earliest book on the Kabbalah his martial arts training. “King David had an army, and they and is referenced in the Talmud. The meditation techniques from this book were developed by the practised martial arts,” he says. “It’s about German Pietists, the Hasidei Ashkenaz self-control and discipline, not fighting. spent time in Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen et in the Middle Ages, and then by the And even though I learnt much of my ins , is now Asia, below, and as he Ecstatic School of Kabbalah headed by Abraham Abulafia in medieval Spain.” For Rabbi Gigi, meditation is
68 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk For Marcus J Freed, above and far right, yoga is about self-empowerment
meditation in the east, the Torah is full of meditative traditions from the Talmud to Kabbalah. The only way to have a spiritual connection to God is to calm your own mind.” While Rabbi Dov Ber refutes the label of ‘radical’, he does welcome the term ‘extreme’, in that he won’t settle for a “mediocre” life. “I would like to see everyone exploring ways to connect to God on a spiritual level,” he says. “As long as it’s kosher!” While he doesn’t agree, as some have said, that smoking cannabis brings you closer to God (“you’re just stoned!”) he feels that art and music also have the ability to enhance our connection to God. He would also encourage the teaching of martial arts alongside that of Torah to enable students to improve their character. People are yearning for a sense of self and happiness. Martial arts and mindfulness, alongside Torah study, can achieve this.” Certified rabbi and author Marcus J Freed, who penned The Kosher Sutras: A Yogi’s Guide to the Torah and The Kabbalah Sutras: A Yogi’s Guide to Counting The Omer, among other books, is also president of the Jewish Yoga Network and has dedicated hundreds of pages and newspaper inches to explaining why yoga and Jewish study are so compatible. He feels that combining yoga with religious learning bridges the gap between study and spirituality, and that they work symbiotically, not exclusively. As we chat on the phone, he is very pleased with the success of his recent initiative, the world’s first international Jewish yoga seminar. For him, yoga is a story of self-empowerment; for people who have chosen to pursue the path of selfdevelopment and self-refinement. “There is a thirst for the blend of Jewish practice, yoga and meditation, since there are so many spiritual seekers who have not yet found their religious expression within a traditional framework. But you do not have to choose between one or the other. Jews by nature are spiritual seekers – yoga combines breath, soul, movement, philosophy and a powerful way to connect with God.” Looking to the future, Rabbi Gigi says he would love to see more meditation and yoga spaces accessible to the strictly Orthodox. “I hope meditation can be filtered with kedushah (holiness) and taharah (purification) and become a normal thing,” he says. Amen to that, Grasshopper. For more: Rabbi Gigi’s contemplative Judaism, www. maayanhatum.com or email: rabbigigi@maayanhatum. com; Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen at www.litmindfulness.org; Marcus J Freed at freedthinking.com
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Venison tartare on crumpet
The Elder restaurant
BATHING BEAUTY By Louisa Walters
Fans of Bridgerton will be well-versed in the beauty of Bath as shown on screen, but there is plenty else to admire. There has been a profusion of new openings in the city to tempt even the most jaded of foodies and one of them happens to be in the same building as an exciting new hotel. Obviously I packed my bags faster than you could say Lady Whistledown. Hotel Indigo Bath is housed in one of those beautiful, honeycoloured Georgian terraces, which glow even if the sun isn’t shining. It’s an 18th century Grade 1 listed building that once played host to the likes of Sir Walter Scott and William Wilberforce. The essence of this hotel, as with all Indigos, is modern design with quirky touches and intimate service; it scores highly on all. Ours was a Garden Room, which is, as the name implies, based at the back of the hotel and decorated in a
bright, fresh colour scheme. A comfy Hypnos bed with luxury Egyptian cotton linen, a gleaming and very well-lit bathroom, a Nespresso coffee machine, highspeed Wi-Fi and a huge TV mean that I’d have been very happy to stay put. But Bath awaited and a visit to the Canaletto exhibition at The Holburne Museum (whose fascia was used as Lady Danbury’s home in Bridgerton) is a must, followed by
The Holburne Museum in Bridgerton
a walk around the beautiful Sydney Pleasure Gardens. When in Bath… one must bathe, so I made time to do that in the fabulous freestanding bath before getting dressed up to walk through the hotel into The Elder; like walking through that famous literary wardrobe, it was like entering another world. We left behind the quirky décor and jewel tones of the hotel for a truly British establishment. Sage green walls, dark wooden floor and tables, paintings of hunting scenes, and deer heads complete with antlers combine to make a smart, stylish restaurant. It’s also very intimate, as it is configured as a series of rooms leading off from the spectacular bar where we had drinks.
The restaurant is not owned by the hotel - restaurateur Mike Robinson, who co-owns Michelin-starred pub the Harwood Arms in Fulham, and opened The Woodsman restaurant in Stratford upon Avon last year, is behind this new venture. The menu is small, but I could have happily chosen anything on it. (There are vegetarian and vegan menus available too.) After a pre-appetiser of a very special beef and rosemary broth, we feasted on deer tartare on a crumpet, chalk stream trout with tomatoes, then black bream with peas and lettuce, jersey royals and tartare velouté, and a superb aged sirloin with hash brown and caramel ceps. Desserts were a highlight - cherry jubilee soufflé and a chocolate bar with peanut butter and popcorn. Every dish was carefully explained by our server – I love this touch because very often I’ve forgotten what I ordered by the time it comes! Rooms at Hotel Indigo Bath start at £149
LONDON LIGHTS By Louisa Walters
I’ve seriously missed going on a city break over the past 18 months. So when theatres reopened and I booked tickets to see a West End show, I had a lightbulb moment – why not combine that with an overnight stay? After all – what better city is there than London? The Dilly in Piccadilly was formerly Le Meridien and before that The Marriott. It first opened as a hotel in 1908, so you could say it is a grand old dame of London hotels. It has undergone a partial renovation (ask for a renovated room) and is looking absolutely gorgeous. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable and ours overlooked Piccadilly itself – it’s such a thrill to look out of the window and see London coming back to life. Bathrooms are large and well-lit with lux toiletries from local perfumier Floris in Jermyn Street. The Dilly has one of the largest
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TRAVEL indoor swimming pools in any London hotel, two squash courts and an enormous gym. It also has its own in-house dance studio, where guests can learn Smooth, Latin and Ballroom from world champions in private or group classes. There’s a lovely ritual at 6pm every day in the lobby, where a member of staff bangs a ceremonial Edwardian gong to signal the change from day to night. Guests are offered a complimentary locally-sourced beverage to start their evening – mine was a glass of Chapel Down English sparkling wine. There are dog-friendly rooms, family rooms and lots on offer for kids, including games, books, daily treats, popcorn and milkshakes available in-room. We sampled the Peter Rabbit Afternoon Tea, which is served every afternoon in The Terrace, a light-filled conservatorystyle restaurant with a small outdoor seating area that overlooks Piccadilly. Cute smoked salmon pinwheel sandwiches and vegetable garden baguettini are followed by dinky scones and creative pastries – a chocolate flowerpot filed with mousse, a strawberry ganache ‘mushroom’ and a carrot cake with chocolate carrots - all served on beautiful Beatrix Potter china. After the theatre we took a long walk around Soho, Chinatown and Leicester Square. The streets were alive, and London had its party shoes on! There was something truly magical about walking back to the hotel to bed and waking up there the next morning. The hotel does a perfectly serviceable buffet breakfast, but my advice is to stay room-only and head to The Wolseley up the road for one of the best brunches in town. Right on top of theatreland, round the corner to London’s best shopping street and walkable to a huge range of restaurants, I cannot think of a better location than The Dilly for a city break. Rooms at The Dilly start at £233
The Peter Rabbit afternoon tea at The Dilly 72 LIFE jewishnews.co.uk
BLOWN AWAY IN NORFOLK By Louisa Walters
I’ve long wanted to experience the big skies and beautiful beaches of Norfolk, but never found anywhere appealing to stay. And then I heard about The Harper. ‘Here, where land meets sea, so shall quality meet informality,’ said the press release, and I knew I’d finally found the right place. Located in north Norfolk near Holt and Blakeney, and a short drive from Felbrigg Hall (a must-visit family home with an exquisite and unmissable walled garden), the hotel building was once a glassblowing factory. In homage to that, the design is all about workshop chic with lots of glass, creating light, airy interiors with interesting furniture and art. There are 32 bed rooms and no two are the same. Boutique hotels are famed for offering cosy and comfy rooms but The Harper does things differently; room categories are Big, Bigger and Biggest. All have a superking bed, opulent linens, bespoke Norfolk-made toiletries, super-fast Wi-Fi, a desk (I could happily work from there), an enormous TV and a complimentary mini bar. The staff are young, attractive and incredibly friendly. My stay started at the spa with a Forte Facial with shoulder and foot massage. This was an hour of pure relaxation, where I felt as though the stresses of the past 18 months were quite literally washed out of my face and body. This set me up nicely for a chillout session in The Den – a cool hideout with deep squishy leather
sofas, a pool table, board games and a projector for movie nights. There’s also an Enomatic wine fridge, which offers up samplers of different varieties to try. The Harper has a ‘drink and dine anywhere’ policy. We had drinks in The Bar, where The Harper cocktail was a delectable fusion of elderflower, Norfolk gin and champagne. We opted to eat dinner in Stanley’s (named after the founder’s grandfather - whose middle name happened to be Harper). This restaurant is delightfully informal with bare brick walls, a vaulted ceiling and a huge central table for larger groups. The compact menu offers up some great dishes, among them smoked mackerel with russet apple relish, gazpacho with saffron croutons, wood-fired sea bass with baby marrow and smoked
almonds, and ribeye on the bone for two to share, which came with baby veg, spring greens and the fattest, crispiest, tastiest duck fat chips I have ever had. There is plenty for veggies. We chose to eat dessert – caramelised crunchy apple tart and cranoffee bumble (banoffee pie meets banana crumble) – in Ivy’s Lounge, named after the owner’s late grandmother. This wonderful room sits at the heart of The Harper within the old foundry. It is an airy, double-height space with a huge wood-burning stove and a beautiful stained-glass window. The room is
filled with various seating types and the owner’s collection of Taschen books, which kept me occupied for hours. Breakfast is also served in Stanley’s and here we tucked into creamy yogurt with berries and granola, and Eggs Harper – hot smoked salmon with poached eggs and hollandaise. For active people there’s a beautiful indoor pool with hot tub, sauna and steam room, a fleet of bikes to borrow and lots of walking routes (Harper Hikes) to follow. Maybe next time… this time I was happy leafing through another of those Taschen books in The Yard – a sun-drenched outside space under those big Norfolk skies, with a firepit for cooler days. Rooms at The Harper start at £175
And yet further... Brigit Grant has divine destinations for those prepared to go
Above and right: Mykonos Theoxenia is the island’s icon Left and below: The Asterion, named after the son of the gods
SETTING A TRAVEL TREND rather than following it can be very rewarding, especially if you are first through the door of a new hotel. Best speed up your visit then to the Asterion Suites & Spa in Pyrgos Psilonerouon the west coast of Crete. Named after the son of the Gods who was born on the island and it’s first King, this is a hotel which spreads the royal vibes to its guests. Nestled on a beach overlooking the Aegean Sea and Saint Theodore Island’s nature reserve, this hotel has the sort of suites families long for as they sleep up to four and, in the case of the Ocean Suite, enjoys all the comforts and there is a swim-up pool, so there is no reason to leave
your room for a dip and the Kingdom Suite is 52 square-metres of laidback comfort and big enough to host five. You may not want to take everyone with you, but there is a spa for escape and among other eateries the Cretan à la carte restaurant 35°, where the chefs prepare dishes which tell the story of the island. Think Greek Jackanory with delicious food and wine. www.asterionsuitesandspa.com
Built and designed in the Sixties by Greece’s favourite architect, Aris Constantinides, the Mykonos Theoxenia has always offered fivestar hospitality on the seafront of the island’s Little Venice neighbourhood close to the iconic Kato Mili windmills. Preserving the historic character of the property has always been a priority and a refurbishment is scheduled for next year, so it makes sense to see it now, then revisit for the changes. Who wouldn’t want to go back to Mykonos? www.mykonostheoxenia.com Get a little heimishe in the hills of Bouliqueme at Casa De Mondo in the Algarve. Just 25 minutes from
Casa De Mondo: Safe, secure and spectacular for travellers who like to feel at home on holiday
Faro airport, the House of the World is a rustic property for travellers with a taste for the eclectic, as that is how the house and three cottages are decorated – each with its own bathroom and small kitchen. Available for events and celebrations, while we are all stupid dubious about which destination to head for, it helps to know that Casa de Mondo is vigilant about sanitising and to be able to relax in beautiful surroundings with caring Jewish hosts makes it a win-win. www.casademondo.com +447903525941 The Santikos Collection sounds like an art assemblage that might have belonged to the late shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. It isn’t, but it is still precious, sparkling and available to you, as this is a superior collection of hotel properties on mainland Greece and the islands of Skiathos and Alonissos. The Princess Resort occupies the best beach on Skiathos and offers three à la carte restaurants serving around the clock, fabulous bedrooms, the Juliette Armand spa and complimentary children’s’ club services. Just look at the pictures and will yourself
there, or to the unspoiled island of Alonissos, where you can stay at the Marpunta Resort, which is an exclusive paradise with three private beaches and rooms on a hill overlooking the Aegean. Built in the style of a traditional fishermen’s village, there are tennis courts, wellness facilities, swimming pools and a taverna. Watch this space for a future firstperson experience. That’s assuming I come back. www.santikoscollection.com
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Beach cabanas at the Asimina Suites
Despite Israel being just a hop and a skip (well, ship) away, it remains frustratingly out of reach during these tumultuous times. Happily, Cyprus has stepped in to welcome sun-starved Brits. Naomi Nakam was one of them
The Demokritos tavern in Kato Paphos is known for its Greek dances. Left: The Blue Lagoon
Bespoke Cyprus beckons I
n the cab on the way to our Paphos resort, I marvel aloud to my friend Shira about how similar the layout of the roads are to Israel. I soon find out from our female Cypriot taxi driver, that Israel and Cyprus share more than I had known. The cab driver was named Mariam after one of her mother’s best friends who was Jewish and interned in a refugee camp after the war. Following the liquidation of the concentration camps, the British set up a detention camp in Cyprus for Holocaust survivors illegally trying to enter Palestine, as it was then called. From 1946 until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the British confined 50,000 Jewish refugees on the island, after which most moved to Israel. Thus started my first memorable evening in Cyprus that ended well with a divine piña colada and fresh fruit platter, wheeled into my luxurious suite on a white clothcovered trolley. Asimina Suites, part of the luxury Constantinou Bros chain, is an adult-orientated resort, where palm trees sway beside an artfully-placed bridge over the glittering V-shaped pool, taking
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Naomi and Shira enjoying Cyprus
you straight to the sea and just as easily to the beachfront restaurant. If, like us you prefer to lazily lie on your lounger, there’s both a garden and beach menu to choose from, but we didn’t notice that until the next morning when we woke to a breakfast of gourmet coffee, yoghurt, cereal and dripping honeycomb. There’s only so much dairy decadence one can take, however, so when we came across the homestyle glatt kosher meaty restaurant at the local Chabad house, complete with an Israeli chef, we took full advantage and ordered generous portions of schnitzel and shawarma. Run by the welcoming Rabbi Itzik and Chana Eisenbach, there is also a kosher grocery store on site, as well as regular Shabbat services. In terms of nightlife, Paphos pales in comparison to nearby heady Ayia Napa, but we were after something
a little more traditional, which Demokritos tavern delivered. One of the oldest taverns in Kato Paphos, it is known for its entertainment and is a favourite among local Israelis. The bubbly, friendly Konstantina owns the place and checks on diners between hitting the stage to belt out Greek and Israeli songs. Demokritas is located off the busy main strip of Agiou Antoniou (known to tourists as Bar Street) which comes to life (as they do) after 9pm. During the day, a short walk along golden sands takes you to an array of water sport companies, including San Antonio Watersport, with whom I tried out paragliding for the first time and loved it! Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark – the biggest in the region – is another great day out. I was brave and tried out the wilder slides – except for the free fall, which involves a stomachchurning plummet of 50ft down a vertical sheet of water. After the lunch we ate, the more sedate ‘lazy river’ was safer, but family rafting is a great ride for groups and little ones will love ‘the magic splash’, a new, interactive water activity, as well as the 40ft pirate ship, ideal for some swash-buckling shenanigans. Sun worshippers will be glad to
know Paphos is a veritable beachy paradise with the white sands of Lara Bay, a safe haven for the Greek population of Green and Loggerhead Turtles. For me, the isolated Blue Lagoon was the most beautiful as the water was so clean and clear. We kept ourselves busy – although, with the hotel offering so many treatments at its Elixir Spa, it was tempting to stay put and remain vertical. Maybe the next time we visit.
TRAVEL TIPS Naomi flew with British Airways and stayed at the Asimina Suites (www.asimina-cbh.com), which is currently offering the Book Deluxe Package – Ultra All Inclusive (a saving of €39 per person, per day). This offer applies for reservations made by 08/10/2021.
Bespoke Kosher Travel ALTHOUGH IT SADLY CAME TOO LATE FOR MY TRIP, Bespoke Kosher Travel, which specialises in creating travel itineraries to destinations around the world, has recently expanded to include Cyprus. Director Ben Robbins explains: “We will work with you to create your perfect holiday experience, tailoring your trip to suit your requirements and wishes by sorting hotels, tours and transfers, as well as ensuring you have access to good quality kosher meals in the hotel of your choice.” Ben informs me that, for the very first time, Bespoke Kosher is providing an exclusive strictly kosher dining experience in The Caprice Hotel, a luxurious spa resort with an on-site synagogue. Minutes from the glittering waters of Latchi beach, The Caprice overlooks the Akamas Bay, with most apartment suites having their own private Jacuzzi and swimming pool. The hotel also has two communal outdoor pools, an indoor heated ‘dead sea’ pool, spa with a sauna, hammam, jacuzzi and a range of treatments. I now have another excuse to return to Cyprus, but with the benefit of bespoke cuisine and someone else doing the organising. Contact Bespoke Kosher on 020 3151 1660 or email info@ bespokekoshertravel.com; www.bespokekoshertravel.com
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