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Jews & Crime

As any historian will tell you, one of the ways we discover Jews in far-flung places is through accounts of criminal activity both perpetrated by and against Jews. This series proposes to reflect on the relationship between Jews and issues of crime and criminality, opening up the hidden worlds of Jewish criminals and criminal behaviour. […]

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A Jewish Magician Among the Spirits

Efram Sera-Shriar remembers Harry Houdini’s investigations into spirit and psychic phenomena at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1926, the famous American magician Harry Houdini (née Ehrich Weisz) participated in a series of congressional hearings to determine whether ‘fortune telling’ should be made a criminal offence in the District of Columbia. For many observers […]

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East of Here

Ophir J. Bitton Which way should I look, a question I should have never asked, the aim followed by the blast, parts parted before my eyes, nothing said from the shouting and the cries, why do I still stand, why, I do not understand nor any of it, for now, I cannot look.

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The Diaper Diaspora

Marc Kaye remembers being born Jewish on a US Army Base in Germany. In screenwriting, it is often recommended to place your protagonist in very extenuating circumstances – situations that he would never expect to find himself in. For a Jewish mother, I would think that taking a Jewish son and placing him both in […]

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A Talmudic Director

Nathan Abrams reflects on the Jewishness of Mike Leigh’s work. Although he hasn’t made a film since 2018, Mike Leigh is back on the radar. Today, a new edition of Faber’s Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh edited by Amy Raphael is released. The BFI is celebrating his work with a major retrospective at its Southbank […]

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Do Not Underestimate the Determination of a Quiet Rabbi

Gloria Tessler considers the welcome activities of some of our rabbinate but decries the misguided priorities of others. When we think of great rabbis we sometimes look back to philosophers of the past. Maimonides, the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslau, Abraham Heschel, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Great thinkers who have died and left us […]

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A left response to left antisemitism: Is it too late for education?

Two recently-published books try and educate the left against antisemitism. Will they succeed?

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The Gift of the Invisible Book

Ophir J. Bitton There is a book with no pages or words, Its illustrations are windows, some looking out, Others revealing what is within Some of the pages are torn, smudged and incomplete Yet prose, poetry, humor, philosophy, and wisdom are scribed on each sheet Raw and simple, yet inexplicably deep and complex The chapters […]

‘A stiff-necked people’: Jews and the comedy of transgression

James Harris reflects on the tradition of transgressive Jewish comedy. ‘Störenfried’ is not one of those German words which have made the transition to English, but it’d merit it; a ‘Störenfried’ is a troublemaker, someone who disturbs the peace. As somebody who performed comedy for twenty years, I can’t help noticing that, in the world […]

Television & Film

LEIGH 1 featured

A Talmudic Director

Nathan Abrams reflects on the Jewishness of Mike Leigh’s work. Although he hasn’t made a film since 2018, Mike Leigh is back on the radar. Today, a new edition of Faber’s Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh edited by Amy Raphael is released. The BFI is celebrating his work with a major retrospective at its Southbank […]

life featured

The Jewish Kardashians

Sue Fox stays up late binge-watching Netflix’s latest Jewish reality show. It’s too hot to sleep. There are things I could do at 2.00 am like ironing, reading, listening to Proust on Audible, learning a new language or writing a chapter of the book I’ve been working on forever. Nothing appealed quite as much as the seven (or […]

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‘The Plot Against America’ comes back to haunt me

I can vividly remember reading Philip Roth’s novel when it was published in 2004 and being completely gobsmacked that Charles Lindbergh was the American President. We were on holiday in Portugal in the same place we’d gone back to every year since who knows when, for a week of walking, Scrabble and reading. I can still […]

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Is Clueless Really Jew-less?

Clueless celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this week but its director, Amy Heckerling, has denied that its iconic lead character was even Jewish.   ‘I wasn’t thinking in terms of this being a Jewish story’, she said in an interview with the JTA. ‘I was taking the plot of Jane Austen’s “Emma” and translating it into that world.’ And, […]

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A Golden Age of Jewish Television?

Nathan Abrams reflects on current Jewish television, wondering if we are now enjoying a golden age of Jews on the box. ‘When Did TV Get So Jewish?’ proclaimed Vanity Fair recently.   On almost every channel, we find Jews on television, both factual and fictional. We have also seen more and more Jews both as central and incidental characters and […]

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Antisemitism and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’

The Shining, which marks its fortieth anniversary this year, is probably the ur-horror film. Its template for pyschological horror has been much copied over subsequent decades. Given its director’s ethnicity, which has been established by various authors (including myself), we can also view The Shining through the lens of Jewishness and Judaism. In so doing, […]

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‘Shalom, Jackie’: The end of ‘Friday Night Dinner’

Sue Vice laments the end of an era. As confirmed by Channel Four’s anniversary documentary, Friday Night Dinner: 10 Years and a Lovely Bit of Squirrel, broadcast on, fittingly, Friday 28 May 2021, the series has now finished. There will be no more weekly visits by twenty-something Adam and Jonny to the suburban Jewish home […]

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Bearing Witness to Genocide

Nathan Abrams reviews The Auschwitz Escape (AKA The Auschwitz Report). Slovakia’s Oscar submission for the best international film tells the true story of two Jewish prisoners Freddy (Noel Czuczor) and Valér Peter (Ondrejicka) who escaped Auschwitz to provide a rare first-hand account of the shocking genocide at the camp. It stars John Hannah (Four Weddings […]

Life after Covid

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Are our Jewish nightmares paling into insignificance?

Gloria Tessler asks has the pandemic deepened society’s consciousness and so we Jews have to worry less? Does it seem strange that during the pandemic so many important topics of conversation have suddenly assumed even greater magnitude? Racism in society, gender issues, women’s rights, everything is laid bare before us in terms that were muted […]

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Masks, Jews and the Holocaust

Nathan Abrams explores the similarities between rightwing Americans and orthodox Jews over their refusal to wear masks. The wearing of masks has evoked contradictory emotions and reactions. Some see it as an important means to halt the spread of Covid-19, as well as a sign of social consideration and altruism. Others have politicised the issue, […]

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If I am not for myself, who will be for me? A Profile of Yehudis Fletcher

Karen Skinazi profiles Yehudis Fletcher, a Haredi political and social activist who helped to found Nahamu, an organisation dedicated to fighting extremism. ‘What would you do if, say, a transwoman who used to be part of the Haredi community lost the right to see her children in the civil courts?’ I asked (admittedly, it was […]

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Lockdown and Motherhood

Miki Shaw, an artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in London, reflects on parenthood during lockdown. Lockdown, when it first came, felt oddly familiar to me. Not the large-scale and tragic backdrop of it, but the personal-scale isolation, and being stuck at home. I’ve been locked down in some ways since I first became a […]

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Streaming Rosh Hashanah

Nathan Abrams talks to Dr. Joshua Edelman about his new research project into how best to conduct religion online. As Rosh Hashanah looms, how do we conduct online religious services in the age of Covid? This is an essential question, as we prepare for what is, unquestionably, the most important period in the Jewish calendar. […]

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How Will This Rosh HaShanah Be Different From Every Other? It Won’t

Nathan Abrams reflects on how there will be little change to his Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. There is a great deal of talk about how Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be different this year for many people but for me it won’t. In fact, it will be better. I live in Bangor, in […]

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The Enduring Relevance of Avrom Radutski’s Poetry

Phil Alexander finds contemporary echoes in the poetry of Avrom Radutski. At the beginning of 2020, recently embarked upon a British Academy fellowship exploring Scottish-Jewish musical encounters, I was looking forward to days spent leisurely mining the Garnethill Synagogue Archives, the National Library of Scotland, the British Library, and so many other physical treasure chests.  […]

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Sourdough is Goyish, Challah is Jewish

If there was one thing that characterised my social media feeds during the early days of lockdown, it was the sudden appearance of endless photographs of homemade bread. It seems that, stuck at home, even in the face of a national shortage of flour and yeast, most people’s first reaction was to bake a loaf. […]

Politics

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A left response to left antisemitism: Is it too late for education?

Two recently-published books try and educate the left against antisemitism. Will they succeed?

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The Hard Work of Racial Inclusivity in the British-Jewish Community Starts Here

Lara Monroe, a Black-British Jew, responds to the publication of the report by the Board of Deputies Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community.

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It’s Time to Celebrate Jewish Power

Loolwa Khazzoom celebrates the Jews in the new Biden administration. I watched inauguration day with great emotion, for numerous reasons, including the fact that a Black Indian woman is in the White House, for the first time in history. I was equally excited not only about the corollary fact that there is a second gentleman […]

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We need better ways to speak to each other about campus antisemitism and Israel

Ken Stern argues that efforts to oppose campus antisemitism must be consistent with academic freedom and free speech, and this means rejection of hate speech codes such as IHRA.

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Corbynites prepare to reject EHRC findings

Dan Jacobs considers the likely reaction to the EHRC report by Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. The report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into Labour antisemitism is due to be released to the public within weeks, possibly days.   The report is unlikely to call for the removal of individuals and Jeremy Corbyn himself then […]

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A Letter from Portland

On the day I write this, we have witnessed 60 days of daily demonstrations in the streets of downtown Portland Oregon. After the murder of George Floyd by police, it was awe-inspiring to see myriads of thousands rise up across the US. Horrified by the blatant injustice, peaceful crowds in Portland Oregon, masked, observing safe […]

dang featured

Dang!

Artist and filmmaker Ruth Novaczek reflects on social media’s determination of hate speech — and the real hate it occludes. Dang, banned again! Yes, first it was 24 hours, ok not so bad, next it was 48, hmm, then finally 3 days. The worst aspect of this stupid Facebook algorithmic witch-hunting was the fact that […]

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The problem of love in Corbyn’s Labour Party: Reflections on Left Out

How Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire’s ‘Left Out’ shows how love was always a greater problem than hate in Corbyn’s Labour Party

As We Are

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Time To Heal

Emma Franks, a practising visual artist describes how her brother’s increased religiosity and Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox inspired her commitment to producing work that explores the female narrative and perspective. In the middle of the global pandemic last year, when we noticed birdsong and the joys of being at one with nature people also discovered the […]

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