‘Kive-mania’ showed no signs of fading as Israeli star Michael Aloni made a successful return to the UK recently. Brought over again by JNF UK, the star of hit Israeli shows Shtisel, When Heroes Fly and The Voice Israel delighted two packed-out audiences in London and Manchester.
Hosted by veteran Israeli journalist Elad Simchayoff, the events opened with an appeal for JNF UK’s work supporting lonely Holocaust survivors in Israel – which was especially poignant since Michael has two grandparents who are survivors.
The audience watched a video from Batsheva Dagan, a survivor whose life has been transformed by Project Connected, the subject of JNF’s fundraising appeal. Project Connected partners lonely survivors with teenage volunteers, who are not only companions but also provide an introduction to digital technology. Batsheva described how receiving the computer that JNF UK had purchased for her had been “like a dream fulfilled” and made her “feel young again.”
After the appeal, Michael arrived on stage to talk the audience through his life and work, opening by revealing that prior to acting he had intended to become a scientist.
The focus of the evening was on his career-defining role in Shtisel, the hit Israeli show set in the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem. Michael discussed the effort that went into realistically creating the world that his character, the artist Kive, lived in. He also noted the unique appeal of the show, which has gained fans across the globe – revealing that he has even been recognised by a fan in Brazil!
Perhaps the most intriguing point was raised by Michael’s joke that his visits always seem to coincide with Israel’s elections – and, given how unpredictable Israel’s political scene is, that there is every chance he might return sooner rather than later. Going by the response he received, there are plenty who will be counting down the days.