Stacey Dooley ‘privileged’ to spend 72-hours in rabbi’s home for documentary

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Stacey Dooley ‘privileged’ to spend 72-hours in rabbi’s home for documentary

TV presenter was filmed living with the family of Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg of Woodford Forest shul as part of her 'Sleeps Over' series

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Television presenter Stacey Dooley has been filmed spending 72 hours living at the home of the senior Rabbi of Woodford Forest United Synagogue for a forthcoming episode of her documentary series.

Attempting to show the lifestyle led by an Orthodox Jewish family for her Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over series, the presenter is filmed residing with Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg, his wife Blima, and their nine children at their Essex home.

“The access felt quite privileged,” Dooley explained.

“I don’t think it’s typical for an Orthodox Jewish family to allow cameras into their home.

“That felt like a real treat in itself, but I just love how relatable and how warm and how honest the family were about who they are and about how important religion is to them.”

Rabbi Wollenberg’s family feature in episode five of the new series, which is aired on W/HD (CH 125/211) on Monday 31 May at 10pm.

During the episode, their discuss their commitment to the Chabad movement,  the laws around kashrut and the reasons for having a large family.

Dooley said the aim of the series was to gain insight into the “grey” areas of life around issues such as religion and parenting.

She said: “Typically, when you’re making a documentary, you understand the main objective of the interview is that you have to hold people to account and make sure that you put everything to them, even if it is a bit uncomfortable.

“But then you leave, and you go back to the hotel room and they go back to their homes.

“In this situation, I have to ask the questions, but I also have to sit down and have dinner with them an hour later.

“And I have to ask them how to use their shower. So, there’s no denying that it sometimes feels very awkward. But that’s my job.”

During the episode, filmed during lockdown, Dooley is shown a mikvah, and she also attends a selichot service over Rosh Hashanah.


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