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SJ Super 7

by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-05-19

Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy

The seven most amazing things you will discover in Jewish life and culture.  This week: Another Jewish face in EastEnders, Lionel Blair and Ron Jeremy sample life on The Farm, Natalie Portman reveals her new bald look, and meet Jewish singing sensation Lucie Silvas.

1. New Jew in Albert Square: veteran Jewish actor Melvyn Hayes has become the UK’s latest Semitic soap star. Hayes, best known for starring in 70s sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, is currently appearing in EastEnders as Dot Cotton’s driving instructor Mr Rawlins – who takes a shine to Dot, giving her hubby Jim cause for concern. Hayes is now the second prominent Jewish cast member, after Tracy-Ann Oberman, who plays Den Watts’ wife Chrissie.


2. Down on The Farm: SJ’s latest bit of compulsive viewing is the Five reality show The Farm, which sees a bunch of celebrities learning to work and live together on a farm. And why are we so hooked on it? It’s because of the Jewish contingent in this year’s series – both tap-dancing sensation Lionel Blair and US porn star Ron Jeremy are among the 10 celebrities in the farmhouse. So far, it’s been Ron who’s keeping us watching with his hilarious one-liners and general good humour, but Lionel is now starting to become interesting as well – he’s not getting on too well with fellow farmhand Flavor Flav (from 80s rap group Public Enemy) and is making no secret of the fact. In fact, the sight of Blair expressing his dislike of the rapper – complete with copious swearing – is possibly our favourite moment of the series so far.


3. German film triumphs: A new Jewish comedy from Germany is leading the nominations at the country’s equivalent of the Oscars. Alles Auf Zucker (Go Zucker Go!), has been shortlisted in 10 of the 15 categories at this year’s German Film Awards, including Best Film, Director, Actor and Actress. The movie follows the fortunes of a down-on-his-luck Jewish man who has to convince his Orthodox bother that he is actually Jewish. No word yet on when we’ll get to see it in the UK.


4. Natalie goes bald: kosher cutie Natalie Portman had a surprise for her fans at the world premiere of the new Star Wars film this week – she has shaved her head. The newly-shorn Natalie, who attended the screening of Revenge of the Sith at the Cannes Film Festival, revealed that her new shorn look is for her role in the forthcoming comic book adaptation V For Vendetta, due for release later in the year. And she told reporters she is enjoying her new look. “After all the crazy hairstyles I had to endure for the (Star Wars) films, it's quite liberating to have no hair - especially in this heat,” she said.


5. Singing sensation Silvas: rising star Lucie Silvas, who scored a top 10 hit earlier this year with the track Breathe In, has revealed she is in fact a member of the tribe. The 24-year-old, who was born Lucie Silverman, told the Jewish Chronicle that despite not being religious she is proud of her Jewish identity. “A lot of my friends are Jewish and I’ve been to a lot of Jewish weddings. At the last one, the Rabbi’s speech made me cry.” If you want to check out Silvas for yourself, her album Breathe In and her new single The Game Is Won are out now.

6. Paramount’s double bill: There was a bit of a Jewish theme running through last Sunday’s viewing on the Paramount Comedy Channel. Firstly, SJ caught a repeat of the classic US TV show The Wonder Years in which Paul, played by Josh Saviano, celebrates his Barmitzvah – much to the dismay of his jealous best friend Kevin (Fred Savage). And then later on we saw the UK debut of the South Park Xmas special Woodland Critter Christmas – in which a bunch of cute devil-worshipping animals hunt down a non-Christian host body for the son of Satan. And who do they choose? South Park’s very own Jewish fourth-grader, Kyle. Fabulous stuff.

7. Foer’s back: SJ’s favourite new Jewish author, Jonathan Safran Foer, is back, with the follow-up to his superb debut Everything Is Illuminated. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel follows the adventures of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who goes on a quest to uncover some family secrets after his father is killed in the September 11 attacks on New York. It’s out on 2 June. As for Everything Is Illuminated, if you haven’t read it yet, it’s high time you did – meanwhile the film version, starring Lord Of The Rings actor Elijah Wood, will be in cinemas in September.