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Life beyond Canvey: when Jews collide, with Stephen Brown

October 31, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

£25 – £35

This is a live online event on the Zoom platform and can be booked online.
To buy your ticket – £25 for members, £35 for non-members, CLICK HERE.

Stephen says:

Three years ago I co-produced a documentary whose theme was hope: Canvey the Promised Island. In it, we explored the theme of two disparate communities coming together to live in one small island space in Essex, without initially understanding each other: a group of young Charedi Jewish families from Stamford Hill in North London, seeking a greener, less expensive place to live; and the local, very traditional Essex, non-Jewish Canvey Islanders, who in the main were the epitome of traditional Little Englanders with a fierce loyalty to Essex, the ideas of UKIP and in particular Brexit.

I came to think of the film in analytical terms as two groups making a transitional space, where they could find out about each other in safety and tentative trust. It was a neat, (so I thought), representation of my own transition from film-maker to psychotherapist. I was creating my own safe space in which to think and find a new path.

Since then, the Charedi community settled down and got on with life on Canvey, I qualified as a psychotherapist and counsellor, and we’ve had the pandemic.
What has developed is my thinking about the Charedi Jews, not on Canvey, but those in the parent community in Stamford Hill, and not in relation to the wider non-Jewish community, but in relation to myself, a fellow Jew. And, by extension, the way they are thought about by the wider, non-Charedi Jewish communities.

Jacques Derrida says: “The more you break up self-identity, the more you are saying ‘My self identity consists in not being identical to myself, in being foreign, the non-self-coinciding one,’ etc., the more you are Jewish!” [Jacques Derrida, Questioning Judaism: Interviews by Elisabeth Weber Stanford 2004]

The Charedim have become our non-self-coinciding ones.

This workshop will begin with a screening of the documentary, Canvey the Promised Island and lead into an exploration the themes it raises and how things have changed. I will explore the idea of internal Jewish racism, my own and that of my fellow Jews, conscious and unconscious, which has played out since the documentary, in the devastating context of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Stephen qualified from Birkbeck in 2019 as a counsellor and psychotherapist working with adults. This came after a thirty-five year career in the film and TV industry, culminating in directing the feature-film adaptation of John Banville’s novel, The Sea, in 2013. His love of film remains and, while working as a counsellor and therapist for a diverse range of organisations, including the NHS, Raphael Jewish Counselling, Chai Cancer Care and University of the Arts, he is always on the lookout for his next minor motion picture.


October 31, 2021
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
£25 – £35