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SJ Super 7

by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-04-18

Matt Lucas and David Walliams

Matt Lucas and David Walliams

The seven most amazing things you will discover in Jewish life and culture.  This week: Maureen Lipman blasts the soaps, Viagra is pronounced kosher for Pesach, Eurovision gets a Jewish flavour and 50 Cent raps his way through the Ten Plagues.

1. Lipman speaks out: actress Maureen Lipman has hit out at Coronation Street and EastEnders, accusing recent storylines of being ‘farcical’. Lipman, who starred in Corrie in 2003 as barmaid Lilian Spencer, said reality TV was having a negative effect on the soaps. "People are starting to believe life is like a Jerry Springer show,” she said. “If you’ve murdered someone, you can come out, say sorry and everything’s all right. Now the plotlines of Coronation Street and EastEnders are just as ludicrous."

2. Kosher Viagra: the latest product to hit the kosher for Passover shelves is none other than the impotency drug Viagra. The pill has been deemed unsuitable for consumption over the festival since 1998, but now Israeli rabbi Mordecai Eliahu has said it’s fine to take Viagra over Pesach – as long as it’s enclosed in a special kosher gelatine capsule. Israeli manufacturers Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Israel have said this is acceptable, since enclosing the tablet in gelatine would prevent it from actually coming into contact with the body.

3. More awards for Matt: Kosher comic Matt Lucas has picked up yet more prizes for BBC sketch show Little Britain, this time at the prestigious Bafta TV Awards in London. The show was named Best Comedy Series at the ceremony on 17 April, while Matt and comedy partner David Walliams shared the Best Comedy Performance Award.

4. Eurovision goes Jewish: this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Kiev on May 21st, has a bit of a Jewish flavour to it. There’s the Israeli entry of course, the ballad Hasheket Shenish’ar by Shiri Maymon, but she’s not the only singer from the Holy Land in this year’s contest, as the French entry Chacun Pense A Soi, is also performed by an Israeli singer, who goes by the name of Ortal. And let’s not forget the Hungarian song, Spin The World by the folk group Nox. According to lead singer Szilvi, the track draws on a number of influences, including Hungarian, Argentinian and Jewish folk music, while the video for the track features a group of dancers dressed as Orthodox Jews. SJ will be rooting for them all on the night – except both Israel and Hungary have to make it through the semi-final on May 19th to be in with a chance of winning the contest.

5. David rocks: SJ’s new favourite musician is David Lazzar, a heavy metal performer from Montreal who also happens to be a Lubavitch Jew. He’s released three albums so far – For The One Above, in 1996, Judah’s Fill in 2000 and, most recently, 2004’s Shtark – and he’s not afraid to throw a few Jewish-themed lyrics between those searing guitar solos. You can find out more about him at: http://www.davidlazzar.com

6. Rapper’s delight: SJ has been a fan of the Jewish comic strip Shabot 6000, featuring a rabbi and his Semitic robot friend, for some time now, so naturally we were thrilled to discover that his antics have been turned into an animated cartoon online. Seda Club features Shabot inviting chart-topping rapper 50 Cent to his Seder, only for his guest to reveal he is in fact Jewish and rap his way through the 10 plagues (complete with appropriate animation). Fab stuff, which you can check out at: http://www.shabot6000.com/sedaclub/ - and if you like that one, why not also check out Shabotxmas, in which the automaton manages to avoid paying for his traditional Christmas Day Chinese food by explaining that as it’s Shabbat he can’t actually handle money. That one’s at: http://www.shabot6000.com/shabotxmas/

7. Trouble in Paradise: after several years on the shelf, the good news is that the British Jewish comedy Paradise Grove, which stars Ron Moody as a truculent resident of an old people’s home, is finally getting a cinema release.. The bad news, however, is that SJ wasn’t at all impressed, following a sneak preview – Moody is good, but we found the film to be mean-spirited and just not very funny. Judge for yourself when it opens in cinemas on May 20.