The Jewish Chronicle

Songwriter tunes in on hope amid the West End gloom

- BY JC REPORTER

SINGER-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer has written the soundtrack for a virtual performanc­e released by the Birmingham Royal Ballet. The video, which features dancers, is a “hopefilled storytelli­ng of the struggles we’ve faced as a community”, the company said. Mr Scheuer said he composed Empty

Stage during lockdown. “I went for a walk in

London, thinking about all the closed theatres. The phrase ‘all that’s left is an empty stage’ was going round in my head. I spied a public piano, sat down, and wrote the song Empty Stage,” he said. “The song has now blossomed into a joyful collaborat­ion of song, dance, costume, filmmaking, and recording technology.”

A NASAL spray has proven to be a strong defence against Covid-19 in a study carried out among residents of the Israeli city of Bnei Brak.

As Rosh Hashanah approached last September, biopharmac­eutical company Nasus Pharma approached a rabbi in the city and offered members of his community use of the spray Taffix.

The product is designed to coat the inside of the nose to prevent the virus penetratin­g.

Eighty three people agreed to use the spray before attending synagogue and of these, just two contracted Covid.

Jonathan Ball, a University of Nottingham scientist, said the study showed “the use of nose inhaler provided a physical, and maybe also a chemical barrier.”

But he stressed he was not a complete protection from the virus.

SIR KEIR Starmer has warned that Iran remains “a very serious propositio­n and a very significan­t threat” and that “we always need to bear that in mind as we go forward”.

In a further clear move away from his party’s foreign policy under Jeremy Corbyn, he told South Hampstead Synagogue members on Sunday: “We need to recognise what Iran is and what the risks are in relation to Iran.”

Sir Keir made the remarks after being asked for his thoughts on the Iran nuclear agreement and on whether the UK should be part of it.

He continued: “Of course, we need to find a way to move forwards.

“On the nuclear agreement, I think it’s very important that we make progress rather than going backwards.

“But never underestim­ate the threat that is there from Iran.

“I think sometimes that drops off the political agenda, with Brexit over the past few years, and with Covid.”

Responding to a question on whether he would “stop discrimina­tory targeting of Israel at the United Nations”, Sir Keir said: “Yes, where it is wrong … I’m not in a position to do so at the moment.”

But he then stressed that as an internatio­nal lawyer “I believe in internatio­nal law, and therefore there are elements of Israeli policy that I would disagree with and see as contrary to internatio­nal law. It depends what the issue is.”

Nearly 400 members of the north London shul watched Sunday evening’s online event, which saw Rabbi Shlomo Levin ask questions about Sir Keir’s vision for the country, the challenge of leadership during a pandemic, his continued attempts to tackle antisemiti­sm and the recent criticism he has faced over his effectiven­ess.

After Rabbi Levin suggested those holding anti-Jewish views were a “significan­t part” of the party, Sir Keir said that he believed that “the vast majority of Labour members were not in that place”.

Sir Keir said: “I know some of that is there and we are dealing with it. ”

He said: “The vast majority of members are not that way inclined and are supportive of the action I am taking in the

I believe in internatio­nal law, and there are elements of Israeli policy I would disagree with’

Labour Party.”

However, Sir Keir accepted Rabbi Levin’s claim that there “still is a mountain to climb”. He pointed to “the difficult decisions in terms of Rebecca Long-Bailey, in terms of Jeremy Corbyn” – he took action against both the former shadow chancellor and former Labour leader over issues relating to antisemist­ism – and added that he knew “what the right decision was”.

 ?? PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES ?? Better days: London’s Sondheim Theatre
PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES Better days: London’s Sondheim Theatre

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