TV Review: Being Jewish shows that rites of passage are common to all religions

Billy Foley

Billy Foley

Billy has almost 30 years’ experience in journalism after leaving DCU with a BAJ. He has worked at the Irish Independent, Evening Herald and Sunday Independent in Dublin, the Cork-based Evening Echo and the New Zealand Herald. He joined the Irish News in 2000, working as a reporter and then Deputy News Editor. He has been News Editor since 2007

Jack and Jolanda reciting the chuppah at their wedding in Being Jewish (C) Proper Content - Photographer: Rachel Dupuy
Jack and Jolanda reciting the chuppah at their wedding in Being Jewish (C) Proper Content - Photographer: Rachel Dupuy Jack and Jolanda reciting the chuppah at their wedding in Being Jewish (C) Proper Content - Photographer: Rachel Dupuy

Being Jewish, BBC 2, Tuesday

Every religion marks life’s milestones with age old rituals and for Jews there is a similar pattern – joining shortly after birth, passing from childhood to adulthood, marriage and death.

The excellent Being series has been looking at the five largest religions in the UK. With Hindu, Muslim and Sikhism already covered, this week it was the turn of Judaism, before finishing with Christianity next week.

For Jews the circle of life begins with the bris, when eight-day old boys are circumcised. We witnessed the bris of the son of Rabbi Yanky and his wife Rochel.

Well, obviously some bits of the ceremony were kept away from the camera but we heard a little cry when the deed was done. Rabbi Yanky and Rochel were very relaxed with the procedure but another expectant mother was dreading it.

Jolanda, who had converted to Judaism after meeting Jack. While perhaps not the most observant Jew, he was delighted that his then wife to be had the respect for his tradition and his family to take up the task.

Jolanda was expecting their first child and was dreading the bris.

Ethan in Essex was at the next stage of his Jewish journey. Under the watchful eye of his parents he was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah on his 13th birthday (Bat Mitzvah for girls).

This required learning passages of The Torah in Hebrew and reading aloud in the synagogue. Ethan had dedicated his Bar Mitzvah to Eli Aizman who didn’t get to celebrate his 13th birthday after the 12-year-old Polish boy was murdered in the Holocaust.

Jolanda and Jack celebrated a wedding in a Reform Jewish tradition in Malaga, with a female rabbi.

Meanwhile, David was reflecting on the death of his father Norman at the end of the year long mourning period. This occasion is marked with the unveiling of a headstone, know as a stone setting ceremony.

The Being series is a simple and welcome addition to inter-religious understanding and an excellent basic educator


Paloma Faith: As I Am, BBC 1, Sunday

Singer Paloma Faith has three double-platinum albums to her name but her future career is far from assured.

This was the starkest revelation from a behind the scenes view of her 15-date tour of the UK, just before lockdown, to promote her fourth album, The Architect.

Faith grew up in Hackney and thus possesses a striking Albert Square accent. She went to ballet school at 10 and later completed a BA in dance. But the now 38-year-old found fame through her voice.

Music may be a business, but there’s little cash to be made in downloads and Faith has to get out on the road to make some money from live concerts.

This is getting more difficult for her because she’s a new mum and doesn’t want to be separated from her baby daughter.

It means additional expense - a separate tour bus for the baby and nanny - at a time when costs need to be kept under control. The second issue is a constant lack of sleep. The nanny minds the infant during rehearsals and the concerts, so Faith is in charge through the night.

Neither are helped by the slightly sluggish sales of The Architect, which Faith and her management accept may be the end of her high-profile music recording career. She says she’ll need to pursue other areas to make money (she has already done some acting) and perhaps continue with touring for the love of it.

It’s a brutally tough business and you can’t but admire Faith’s talent, determination and guts.