A Jewish history student with vision, ambition, and a nice measure of chutzpah has launched a global TV channel on YouTube.
Going live next week, J-TV is the project of Oliver Anisfeld, now in his final year reading history at University College, London.
At a reception, hosted by MP Jonathan Djanogly, at Parliament’s Portcullis House on Wednesday evening, nearly 200 people gathered to see the first stages of a year’s work by Anisfeld, a passionate believer in Jewish education and finding different ways of getting his message over.
J-TV will be, promised Anisfeld, “a new, high quality, online Jewish media channel, easily accessible, aimed at Jews and non-Jews who are interested in understanding Jewish life and culture.” He had come up with the idea because he was sure there was a gap in the market, particularly for his age group.
Every week four different segments will be posted on YouTube: current affairs, with presenter Dr Alan Mendoza, director of the Henry Jackson Society; Jewish wisdom, hosted by Anisfeld, speaking to “dynamic Jewish educators in front of a studio audience”; movers and shakers, where big names will be interviewed by Tara Adlestone; and a Jewish food segment, with how-to breakdowns of classic Jewish recipes, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi.
Early guests on J-TV include the historian Andrew Roberts, former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, and the One Direction and James Corden producer, Ben Winston.
Dr Mendoza confided that he had persuaded Lord Sacks to say “something he has never said before”, but would not divulge further.
Those who spoke at the launch included Labour peer Lord Kestenbaum, the Shabbat UK executive director Rabbi Daniel Rowe, and the BBC’s head of religion and ethics Professor Aaqil Ahmed.
Professor Ahmed said he was particularly keen on what J-TV might have to offer because he was in favour of improving “religious literacy”, which he hoped the new channel would provide.
All the speakers highlighted Anisfeld’s determination to see the project through to fruition, even when they themselves had been sceptical. J-TV’s first six weeks of operations will be financially supported by the student’s father, Lance, better known as Lance Forman, managing director of the smoked salmon empire, H Forman and Son. After that, Anisfeld says, J-TV will be seeking sponsorship.