Two documentaries about British Jews shortlisted for faith programming award
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Two documentaries about British Jews shortlisted for faith programming award

'We Are British Jews’ and ‘The Unorthodox Life of Miriam’ are named on the Sandford St Martin Awards list

Joseph praying at the top of Masada. (Image Credit: BC/Lion TV/Strahila Royachka. Photographer: Strahila Royachka)
Joseph praying at the top of Masada. (Image Credit: BC/Lion TV/Strahila Royachka. Photographer: Strahila Royachka)

Two very different documentaries about British Jews have been shortlisted for an award by a charity that promotes excellence in religious programming.

Two-part BBC Two TV series ‘We Are British Jews,’ which follows a group that travels to Israel, was named on the Sandford St Martin Awards shortlist alongside File on 4 radio documentary ‘The Unorthodox Life of Miriam,’ which hears from a Jewish woman who felt compelled to leave the Charedi community.

Miriam was from a strictly Orthodox family in Stamford Hill but ended up fleeing in the middle of the night with nothing but a backpack.

The programme, which pricked the ears of HM Revenue and Customs, revealed the normality of financial fraud within the Orthodox community, particularly benefit fraud.

“What Miriam reveals is shocking,” said the programme makers. “The unconventional financial arrangements inside this community can end up tying some people to a religion they’re desperate to leave.”

Upon hearing of the shortlist, Lucie Kon, the British Jewish producer of ‘We Are British Jews,’ said she was “chuffed” that her documentary exploring the attitudes of British Jews to anti-Semitism and Israel had made the cut.

She added: “I am proud to be a British Jew and this series was an incredibly important project for me, demonstrating the diversity and division facing the Britain’s Jewish community.”

Kon took several months to find eight Jews who reflected “the plurality of voices” in British Jewry. The group had meetings in the UK before flying out to Israel, where they travelled to a kibbutz, a settlement and the Palestinian city of Hebron.

After filming a 28-year old British Jewish woman made aliyah, while a 58-year old man moved from Plymouth to London “to re-engage with [pro-Israel] activism”.

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