I rounded off October by spending two consecutive evenings being excited and challenged by the work of two talented young Israeli performing artists, both with so much to offer. Niv Petel is heartbreaking in Knock Knock, his beautifully nuanced account of a devastating situation faced by too many Israeli families, and Hagit Yakira attracted full houses for her exciting new work Free Falling.
Petel is an extraordinary physical actor, wonderfully convincing as a devoted mother whose son is the centre of her life. An engaging and important contribution to our understanding of life in Israel. And at Sadler’s Wells last week, dancer/choreographer Yakira presented four talented performers falling and recovering again as they take what life throws at them. Supporting each other, their eyes and faces as important as the rest of their bodies as they look out for each other. In a beguiling add on, three more dance artists responded to Free Falling – including full audience participation on the studio floor, everyone linked in a joyful dance – a sort of Hora at Sadler’s Wells, which makes Israeli dance so welcome. Niv Petel and Hagit Yakira are certainly names to watch.
Hagit Yakira attracted full houses for her exciting new work, four talented performers falling, recovering and supporting each other, as they take what life throws at them. Their eyes and faces are as important as the rest of their bodies as they look out for each other. Yakira says she invites her audience “to experience the unravelling of real life experiences”. What I loved, though, was the synthesis – the building up of the elements that make up this seemingly simple but actually complex work performed on a vast bare stage.
Next month Sadeh Farm in Kent is set to open its gates. This may not seem like news in itself, but Sadeh (field in Hebrew) is a unique kind of farm: a Jewish farm. Founded by Talia Chain and co, who have already begun work in the grounds of Skeet Hill House, Sadeh aims to reconnect people with their faiths and each other by working together on the land to grow vegetables. “Here Jewish people of all ages and backgrounds can connect with our rich tradition of Jewish farming and be inspired by a religion based in agriculture,” they promise in their mission statement. While the group are almost set up, they still need financial help to acquire polytunnels, sheds, tools, marketing and legal help and more. Visit their Chuffed crowd-funding page for more info and to donate.
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 two Rafis: Raphael with Rafi Zarum, the dean of the London School of Jewish Studies, who presented sessions on James Bond and 7 levels of laziness
“Just back from the two-day inaugural Limmud Tel Aviv. I am not certain how many attended but those who did were a mixture of Israelis and olim from many countries including the UK, France, Italy, Turkey, the USA, South Africa and Australia. There were sessions in both Hebrew and English. Of the English sessions, topics included leadership, a talk by a retired Israeli intelligence agent (his name was not given but when he got up to speak, I recognised him from previous UK Limmud conferences, so his cover was effectively blown), Nidda (Jewish family law), Israeli innovation for developing countries, water co-operation and Jewish origins of value investing.
“There were also some journalists from the Jerusalem Post and The Media Line. Another journalist present but not in a professional capacity was Gabriela Pomeroy who has worked at the Jewish Chronicle and Financial Times and is now on maternity leave from the BBC World Service. She brought her six-month-old son Noah along too! Cementing Limmud’s consistent dedication to Jewish learning ‘in all its variety’.”
By Raphael Gee
For future Limmuds, visit their Tel Aviv or UKwebsites.
Composer Ronald Senator and his wife, pianist Miriam Brickman, tragically died in a fire in their home in Yonkers, New York on Thursday 30 April. Geraldine Auerbach, the founder of the Jewish Music Institute in London, explains how important they were in the world of Jewish music in Britain.
With the General Election now officially underway, we have politics on our minds – in all its forms – for our April issue. From the revolutionary Yiddish poets who fired up the streets of East London, to the current crop of social activists who are committed to making the world a better place today. As our pieces show, there is an irrevocable link between Jews and political activism.
We also have an essay on Jewish voting patterns by Geoffrey Alderman; a discussion on the ethics of the ‘right to offend’ by Brian Klug, and a personal reflection by associate Times editor Daniel Finkelstein on whether being Jewish really matters when it comes to casting your vote. There’s a piece from Paris three months after the terrorist attacks there by a former Le Monde senior editor, Sylvain Cypel, and a piece by Dan Carrier about his great uncle Nat – one of the first English speakers to fire a shot in the Spanish Civil War. But if you’ve had enough of politics (already!) don’t despair, there’s plenty to keep you reading.
We’re celebrating two centenaries: one with the chair of the Ben Uri museum, David Glasser, who tells us how he rose from the mean streets of Glasgow to head one of the most exciting art venues in Europe; and on the eve of the Arthur Miller centenary, we’re asking why are there no Jews in the plays of one of the 20th-century’s greatest Jewish playwrights? There’s also klezmer from Leeds boys Tantz, an interview with new Israeli novelist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen and a report from the place to be on a Tuesday night in Manchester: the Menorah Film Club. Plus three month’s of cultural listings for the UK and abroad. With all that going on – don’t forget to vote!
It is Erev Rosh Hashana, and within an hour we will have 15 people at dinner. My wife, Deborah, is assured and organised, so there’s no frenzy in our household. Until, that is, just before logging off for the evening I received an email any writer would love.
London-based artist Julian Hanford is planning to create an art installation composed of six million domino tiles to commemorate World War II and the 70 years that have passed since its end. The project, FALL, is estimated to cost £1.58m and Hanford is looking to you, the public, for help.
This week Jewish Renaissance editor Rebecca Taylor spoke to Jon Kaye at Sunday Jewish Radio. The station, which is based at Jewish Care in Golders Green, London, broadcasts interviews and conversations on a range of topics and airs – you guessed it – on Sundays! Rebecca told Jon about why she left mainstream journalism for a Jewish magazine and talked about her own Jewish identity, as well as some of the stories in the current issue of JR. Such as Jewish Tehran, why Shmita is becoming a hip commandment, and what has happened to the German Jewish community since the fall of the Berlin wall. You can listen to the interview above.