Arrivals: Natural talent

An entertainer from the start, Angela Jenshil has made showbiz a central part of her aliya.

Angela Jenshil 311 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Angela Jenshil 311
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Angela Jenshil was practically born singing and saw no reason to stop when she made aliya in 2008 at the age of close to 70. She quickly became known as a performer for new immigrant communities in Netanya, where she settled, and is greatly in demand to put on her one-woman shows for the benefit of various charities.
She thinks of herself as an entertainer, and she delights audiences with her powerful voice and large repertoire of old favorites. She even sings a few songs in Hebrew, though she confesses that the language is not her strong point.
She came alone after her husband died, and has two children here who made aliya years before: her son, Adam, and her daughter, Eve.
“I came because of the children,” she says. Nevertheless, she seems to have made a good life for herself independently with a large circle of friends in Netanya, an active role in the local synagogue and, of course, her concerts, which are very popular among the expat crowd and always wellattended.
She grew up in England and gave her first performance at the age of 16, having landed a job with a band under the stage name of Angela Kent. She came from a musical family; her father was a professional violinist.
“I sang in musicals – Annie, Get Your Gun was one of the first, and I used to do impersonations of Doris Day. We performed for many charities, including [major UK organization] Norwood, and I was a member of a group called ‘Starliners.’”
She took a break to get married and produce the imaginatively named Adam and Eve, but soon got back to singing.
“I once sang in Fiddler on the Roof, playing one of the five daughters, and years later I was in it again as Golda,” she recalls.
She appeared in and directed old-time musical shows, compete with full costume, and performed with several well-known Jewish comedians, including Alf Fogel. There were other groups – the Danescrofts and the Mazeltovs – so showbiz was very much a part of her life. However, she also worked, at one time for the UJA and also at the Jewish Museum, in administration.
Always a keen Zionist, she was the one who sent her children here in the first place when they were teenagers and instilled a love of Israel in them so they wanted to return permanently. And it’s thanks to her children that she came to live here.
Adam was always involved in youth movements after gaining a degree at Leeds University in ecology and zoology, and he made aliya in 1995, working for the Federation of Zionist Youth, where he met his wife. Today he is the director of the FZY’s year course in Israel, and he and his wife have three children. Eve became ultra- Orthodox, married and settled in Ramat Beit Shemesh, where she has since produced seven grandchildren.
Having visited Israel many times, Jenshil decided that Tel Aviv was too big; she knew Netanya well and liked the idea of being by the sea. So in April 2008, she packed up and came.
She had found an apartment on a previous trip, but the builder was living there, and she didn’t have the heart to insist on his moving out, as his wife had just given birth.
“For three months, I went from one child to the other,” she says. “They made me very welcome, but it was very hard living out of a suitcase.”
While she loved being with the grandchildren and spending quality time with her son and daughter and their spouses, she was glad when she could finally move into her own place.
Almost immediately after arriving in Netanya, she was contacted by AACI, and a show was organized. Since then, she’s made countless appearances, and people are always coming up to her and saying they heard her in London years before.
When she’s not singing or rehearsing for the next show, she loves a game of bridge and goes two or three times a week to a club where she can play with like-minded people. When she first arrived, she found it a good way to meet people and break the ice. She’s looking forward to a bridge holiday in Eilat with 12 ladies from the club later on in the year.
Learning Hebrew is proving to be a small problem, as she doesn’t often show up at the ulpan run by the synagogue she attends.
“It’s more of a social thing, really,” she confesses, “and living in Netanya, quite frankly, you don’t really need to speak Hebrew. But, well, I’d love to be able to swear a bit.”
She would be the first to tell you that arriving alone in a new country and settling into a new town when the family is a long way away is not the simplest thing to do.
“I just had to take a deep breath, put my shoulders back and plunge in,” she says