Wealth of events on offer at new JW3 centre

The JW3 centre in Hampstead. Picture: Hufton + Crow

The JW3 centre in Hampstead. Picture: Hufton + Crow - Credit: Archant

Opening season will include talks by Kevin Spacey, Ruby Wax and Zoe Wanamaker

A packed programme of book talks, film screenings, music, performances and creative classes gets under way this month with the opening of the JW3 Jewish Community Centre London.

The £50million purpose-built centre in Finchley Road – a modernist concrete and metal design by architect Alex Lifschutz – officially opens its doors on September 29 and 30.

Equipped with state-of-the-art main and studio theatres, cinema, dance studio, demonstration kitchen and teaching rooms, it’s a versatile space that will play host to 1,300 events in its launch season.

There’s a ground-floor café and 30-seat kosher restaurant, serving fresh fish and seasonal veg, run by former Ottolenghi and Made In Camden chefs.

Chief executive Raymond Simonson defied anyone – old and young, Jewish and non-Jewish – not to find an event they’d enjoy and hoped the range on offer would attract people of all cultures.

“This diverse season reflects the community of London, gives a sense of our values and vision and establishes ourselves as London’s new iconic venue that’s open to all comers, whether for a coffee, a film or performance.

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“This is a home for all. We don’t ask you for your bar mitzvah photo or favourite bagel spread at the door. The reality is a lot of Jewish buildings in Britain are behind steel gates because of a fear of anti-Semitism and we are a community that keeps our head down and is embarrassed to say the word Jewish.

“I am fed up with that. We want to increase the quality, variety and volume of Jewish conversation in London. We are raising our head above the parapet, coming out and being proud.”

Opening season highlights include talks by Hollywood movie star Kevin Spacey, comedian Ruby Wax, actress Zoe Wanamaker National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner and film director David Puttnam.

The cinema programme ranges from just released indie films to comedies, mother-and-baby screenings and Israeli movies.

Book talks include one by Hampstead-born Thomas Harding who has written about his war hero great uncle, and Charlotte Mendelson on her latest novel Almost English.

Comedy highlights include performances by self-help Jewish chat show hosts Ronna & Beverly and award-winning stand-up Adam Bloom.

Listen We’re Family by Kerry Shale is a specially commissioned verbatim theatre piece dissecting Jewish family life through interviews with all generations.

Cookery courses

And on top of an extensive programme for families, there are cookery courses, including making cakes, tagines, pasta and pizza, and art courses covering drawing, knitting, watercolour, photography, and silkscreen printing.

Simonson said that future plans for the large piazza at the front of the building include a winter ice-skating rink, recreating a Tel Aviv beach next summer, food festivals, markets and outdoor discos.

JW3 is at 341-351 Finchley Road. Bookings on 020 7433 8989.