The tale of crafty Shmulik – who sees his way round the rabbinate law of shmita that decrees land be left fallow every seven years – is timely for this is that seventh year. Shmulik’s solution to sell his land temporarily to Changrong, his senior Thai worker, with the idea of buying it back when the year is up, inevitably goes spectacularly wrong. And I do mean spectacularly! To reveal more would be a shame, but director Tal Greenberg’s abrasively funny film may well remain a unique opportunity to marvel at a Thai temple sprouting in an Israeli field like Jack’s beanstalk. Greenberg’s cinematography is gorgeous, colouring a vivid landscape, the Spaghetti Western score is spot on for a comic confrontation on the land and the actors are wonderfully matched. It’s great to see the significant community of Thai workers in Israel given space too. Greenberg is definitely one to watch. By Judi Herman
Kapunka is screened with What’s in a Name in London on the following dates:
Wednesday 11 November
6.30pm, Odeon Swiss Cottage, 96 Finchley Rd, NW3 5EL; 033 3006 7777.
6.45pm, JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988 (as part of an evening of comic shorts).
8.30pm, Odeon South Woodford, 60-64 High Rd, E18 2QL; 087 1224 4007.
Could Pinksi be the Jewish Gogol? His story certainly follows in the great tradition of The Government Inspector. It makes you wonder if he could possibly know the writings of that 16th-century sceptic Ben Jonson, whose citizen comedies Volpone and The Alchemist also depend on wily antiheroes pulling the wool over the eyes of a succession of greedy, gullible types for whom you have no sympathy at all.
We were so sad to hear of the death of the pioneering historian David Cesarani on October 25. He contributed over the years to Jewish Renaissance, but here JR editor Rebecca Taylor recalls her first meeting with him at the legendary Kosher Luncheon Club in London’s East End.
I first met David Cesarani in the late-1980s. I must have been about 20-years-old and was writing my final-year dissertation for my English degree at Cambridge University. I had chosen a geekily obscure area of literature to focus on – a body of work with political leanings that emerged from the Jewish East End in the 1930s. It focused on novels such as Simon Blumenfeld’s Jew Boy and William Goldman’s East End My Cradle, which grappled with relating the immigrant experience alongside experimenting with the new forms of modernist writing, and pitched all this against a background of political debate about how the ‘working class’ should best be represented artistically.
On 15 October the Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics (in partnership with the Pears Foundation and the Woolf Institute, Cambridge) hosted an interfaith discussion on the theme The Book And The Believer: Are Catholics, Jews And Muslims Still Outsiders In British Society. The evening was part of a series of events to mark the 175th anniversary of the publication of Tablet Magazine.
I was one of three panellists. The others were Sughra Ahmed, from the Woolf Institute in the Centre for Policy and Public Education, and Frank Cottrell-Boyce, screenwriter and novelist who, alongside his many creative achievements, was the writer for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and for sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
This month BBC Radio has joined in the celebrations of Arthur Miller’s centenary (he was born 17 October 1915) with a terrific season of dramas and documentaries exploring his life and work on Radio 3, 4 and 4 Extra – including the broadcast world premiere of The Hook, which had its world premiere on the stage earlier this year, as reported in Jewish Renaissance. Read on for all the necessary details, and if you miss/have missed any of the programmes, they will be available on BBC iPlayer for a month after broadcast.
The 500th anniversary of the Venice Ghetto might take place in 2016, but I feel as if I’ve already spent some time with its embattled Jewish community, at least as seen through Shakespeare’s eyes, as I watch The Merchant of Venice for the fourth time this year.
I guess this might be in contrast to the excited, noisily appreciative, mostly young audience at the National Youth Theatre’s sparky and sparklingly funny production. Even if they are studying the play at school, this might be the first time they’ve seen it, so it’s good to be able to report how much they enjoyed a comic treat. The play is after all dubbed a comedy, even though it also presents huge problems and not just for the Jews in the audience.
In the October issue of Jewish Renaissance, Arthur Smith gives Judi Herman the not so sweet lowdown on his show, Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen, with which the gravel-voiced wit makes his debut at JW3 in December. Here you can hear an extended version of his conversation with Judi. The two share a love of Leonard Cohen and they compare notes on their mothers, both of whom are living with dementia – indeed Arthur’s mother Hazel has become a vital part of his show.
Keep reading to see Smith’s poem about his mother and to listen to him reciting it.
If like me, you relished the toothsome trip round Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in the 1971 movie musical of Roald Dahl’s dark and delicious children’s classic, you’ll have no problem identifying the title of this equally moorish compilation of the words and music of Leslie Bricusse.
Gene Wilder’s pitch-perfect Willie Wonka sang the song like a silky caress in the film and, as the programme informs us, it’s been covered by stars including Michael Feinstein, Sammy Davis Jr, Jamie Cullum and Mariah Carey, and featured on TV shows ranging from Glee to Family Guy.