Who, What & Where with Licorice Pizza, Gal Gadot and Leopoldstat

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Who, What & Where with Licorice Pizza, Gal Gadot and Leopoldstat

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Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Faith Production

With the ‘Jewface’ debate bubbling away nicely among thesps and casting agents and one Dame questioning another Dame’s right to play Golda Meir, along comes Licorice Pizza. Much as it sounds like crazy Italian confectionary to sweeten the mood, it is in fact a movie, the release of which could not be more timely for its director Paul Thomas Anderson, because it’s about a 20-something Jewish girl trying to make it as an actress in 1970s Hollywood.

But it gets better.

Breaking the trend of casting non-Jewish actresses as females of the faith (Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg – seriously?!) the protagonist Alana Kane is played by Alana Haim (pictured above) of the band Haim and she ‘looks Jewish’ because, well… she is Jewish. And before getting all exercised about the notion of her ‘looking’ like one of the chosen, just accept that this is why she was chosen to make her screen debut.

Seeking fame and fortune with an Ashkenazi aesthetic wasn’t easy before Barbra Streisand was deemed sexy in the late 1960s and it is in that period that Alana, with the help of overconfident child actor Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), tries to get her break. Using his own childhood in the San Fernando Valley as the backdrop, Anderson, who is responsible for Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and Adam Sandler’s star turn in Punch-Drunk Love along with other gems, has gone all out for ‘us’ with this perfect piece that really celebrates Jewish looks. Every male in the industry is taken with Alana, including Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper) who married Streisand and auteur Anderson can obviously see the appeal as he is married to comic Jewish actress Maya Rudolph of Bridesmaids. A man of taste, clearly.

Licorice Pizza is out now.

That Gal

Borehamwood eaterie Sababa will be delighted. The restaurant’s name is Wonder Woman’s favourite word.  ‘Cool’, as it translates from the Hebrew, derived from Arabic, is Gal Gadot’s go-to bon mot when nothing else will do. Such as when she is giving birth, which she told InStyle is ‘sababa’ because: “I love giving birth. I would do it once a week if I could. It’s so magical.” We’ll leave other women to ‘wonder’ about the ‘sababa’ of  that.

Gala Gadot and her brood

Sister Act

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day next Thursday, 27 January, Edgware & Hendon Reform Synagogue is hosting Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz on Zoom at 7.30pm. She will talk about her books and then there will be a Q&A session. Her new book, Three Sisters, tells the story of three girls who survived Auschwitz and then returned to their childhood home in Slovakia before embarking on a voyage of renewal in order to live in Israel. Register in advance at

Author Heather Morris

Ticking the Box

Big mazeltov to the truly marvellous Andrew Garfield, who won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his role in Tick, Tick… Boom! Currently appearing on screens in Spider-Man, his portrayal of the late composer Jonathan Larson in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s screen debut is booming marvellous.

Andrew Garfield


Eye Opener

In Eric Steel’s film Minyan, David, a closeted yeshiva student (Samuel H Levine) discovers clues to his sexuality in the most unlikely place – a Jewish retirement home. Living with his widowed grandfather (Ron Rifkin) in the Russian Jewish enclave of New York’s Brighton Beach, David gets the education he didn’t get from the Torah. Minyan is now at selected cinemas.


We’re in!

Israel has finally opened its borders and El Al is holding
a flash sale today and tomorrow. Don’t miss your chance to get there for less.

Stage and sceen

If you missed Tom Stoppard’s Olivier Award-winning play Leopoldstadt at the theatre, catch it at the cinema only on Thursday, 27 January. Set at the beginning of the 20th century in the old, crowded Jewish quarter of Vienna, this epic yet intimate play follows the life of Hermann Merz, a baptised Jew married to Catholic Gretl, across half a century, through the convulsions of war, revolution and the Holocaust.




This Month In Jewish History…

By Jewish News historian Derek Taylor

David Nieto

David Nieto was an Italian rabbi and the Sephardi Haham from 1702 until he died on 10 January 1728. Besides having semicha (rabbinical qualification – rare at the time as there was little training available) he was an astronomer, doctor, historian, logician, poet and theologian. He spoke Hebrew, French, Greek, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish and eventually English. Throughout Nieto’s ministry, he defended the Oral Law (work of rabbis who have interpreted the Written Law over the centuries) against the Classicists, the Modernists, Philosophers, Deists, Sabbatians, Karaites and Catholics, who each wanted to prove Judaism wrong. He proved the community’s loyalty to the Crown by quoting dina de malchuta dina – the law of the land is the law of the Jews. As a result, the mahamad (lay leadership of the Sephardi community) supported  the king. Nieto argued in the face of the new wave of scientific thinking and, thanks to his efforts, when he died nothing at Bevis Marks had changed. There simply are not enough David Nietos.

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