Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.
- Simon Rocker
Jun 25, 2015
The 1a>competition for Jewish secondary school places1b> has clearly caught the community's educations leaders by surprise. With little over two months to go to the start of the new school year, you might have found a handful of children still waiting for places at this stage in the past few years. But there appear to be at least a classful this year.
What has fuelled anguish even more is that many of these children are at Jewish primary schools and had expected to go on to Jewish secondary schools. It must be galling to have invested in your children's Jewish education and be left in the lurch, when other, less committed, families may have clinched places through the entry lottery simply by turning up to synagogue a few times.
The opening of two new state-aided Jewish secondary schools in the north-west London area in the past decade - 3a>Yavneh College in Hertfordshire 3b>and the Jewish Community Secondary School in East Barnet - had led to fears of the opposite problem: too few Jewish pupils to fill them. Instead the reverse has happened in a relatively short space of time.
- Tulip Siddiq
Jun 24, 2015
Last week in Parliament, I felt deeply honoured to give my maiden speech before the House of Commons. I felt honoured to celebrate the rich political history, the tapestry of cultures and the spirit of community that defines my constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn. Crucially, I felt honoured to speak for the values upon which I was elected, particularly the need for collective responsibility in the face of adversity.
It is in that spirit that I have decided to 1a>sponsor an Early Day Motion as my parliamentary response to the anticipated presence of far right groups in Golders Green1b>. The motion calls upon the Government to isolate the politics of hate and division, but also to celebrate the work being done to promote solidarity and celebrate diversity in the local area. Whilst some MPs may dismiss such motions as simple gestures, I would argue that the historic consequences of allowing bigotry to fester unchallenged are too grave to ignore.
As with several neighbouring constituencies of North London, Hampstead has seen an increase in antisemitic incidents over the past year. Whether it was swastikas being daubed on signs in Hampstead Heath, or concerned parents fearing for their children's safety in school, antisemitism has reared its ugly head and must continue to be met with an uncompromising, zero-tolerance response. My Early Day Motion forms a small part of the necessary efforts, which is why its wording sought to give a platform for the work of local campaigners.
- Orlando Radice
Jun 24, 2015
It was billed as a strategy conference and boasted an impressive line-up of guest speakers, but the only narrative truly advanced by Bicom’s UK-Israel policy event in London on Monday was that Israeli politics is a mess.
The Knesset is an uncomfortable place these days. The government has a majority of one and in the horse-trading that preceded the creation of the current coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to hand out roles on the basis of whether MKs would support him in Knesset votes rather than whether they were best suited to the position.
Enter 1a>the conference’s headline speaker, Silvan Shalom1b>, who has three day jobs: Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and head of any future peace talks.
- Simon Rocker
Jun 23, 2015
There are probably more people involved in the serious study of Jewish texts than ever before. But you don’t have to have gone to yeshivah or sem to enjoy it.
If you want a taster of text, then London’s JW3 centre is running a “Pop-Up Beit Midrash” tomorrow night (Wednesday June 24, tickets £10 with supper).
It is being led by two tutors from the Pardes Institute of Jerusalem, Nechama Goldman-Barash and Rabbi Alex Israel.
- Emma Jacobs
Jun 11, 2015
As far as I am concerned, it is time to talk about sex.
Earlier this year, David Cameron announced his plans to tackle the ubiquity of porn. According to him, porn is "corroding childhood" - something he wants to change by having internet providers to UK homes block pornography, unless the homeowner specifically opts in to view adult content.
But recently leaked documents from the Council of the European Union suggest that the only "block" to his plans is coming from Brussels, which opposes his measures.
- Gideon Falter
Jun 11, 2015
Just how accepting are we supposed to be of neo-Nazis? Should we repeatedly allow them to walk past the homes and families of Holocaust survivors? Should we indulge them as they desecrate the calm of Shabbat? Must we explain to our children that "never again" comes with a special waiver for "small" demonstrations?
On April 18, the community ignored a small neo-Nazi demonstration in Stamford Hill, and Campaign Against Antisemitism did not disagree with that decision.
The neo-Nazis go from community to community looking for attention, and the conventional wisdom is that the worst thing to do is to give it to them. Their demonstration in Stamford Hill was a damp squib; they wanted to demonstrate against Jews but to avoid arrest they had to settle for protesting against the livery painted on a Shomrim car. They demonstrated in small numbers, then went to a local pub.
- Ella Rose
Jun 10, 2015
In my first week as UJS President I was told my only job was to handover to a President stronger than myself, with a Union that was better than when I first started. Whilst I have no doubt Hannah Brady will be fantastic, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Is UJS stronger than it was this time last year? I say yes. But this hasn’t been without its challenges.
The week after I was elected the front cover of the JC read: ‘She’s the new head’. The media coverage focused on my gender first and my skillset second (if at all). It’s been challenging for me. I’ve been told numerous times that I’ve been offered opportunities because I’m both young and female, before adding an afterthought that it’s because UJS should be included.
Regardless, the opportunities that I’ve been offered have given me the space to increase the profile of UJS. UJS has been at the forefront of the Jewish community this year, be that at the annual community meeting with the Prime Minister, or taking students to meet with key Israel thinkers such as Ari Shavit, showing that we are not just the leaders of the future, we are the leaders of today. And those leaders are doing amazing work on campus. They’ve hosted over 190 Friday night dinners, done amazing cross-communal education and run shabbatons for their fellow students. I want the community to know that the perception that students are lazy and immature could not be more wrong. Students dedicate extraordinary amounts of time to making sure that their peers have an amazing Jewish life on campus.
- Sandy Rashty
Jun 8, 2015
Anyone who has ever been involved in organising a high-profile event — especially one in the Jewish community — will tell you there is always a mishigas going on behind the scenes.
The inaugural Connect event, which hosted disgraced designer John Galliano as guest speaker, was no different.
In April, I was asked by the organisers to compere the centrepiece of the event, a panel discussion featuring Mr Galliano and Israeli designer Ronit Zilkha.
- Dina Hochhauser
Jun 5, 2015
Having grown up in London, I was initially wary about spending the three years of my degree there.
I had dismissed several universities based on the lack of Jewish life, but that this would be relevant in London never entered my mind.
So I was surprised to find that, despite the wealth of Jewish activity in London, there were not a huge number of events that encompassed all Jewish students. Although I had been unsure as to the extent to which I wanted to involve myself in these large-scale JSoc events, it seemed that the choice was no longer mine. The few events held in the first term were diminished affairs compared to those experienced by my friends, attending universities boasting far fewer Jews than in the capital.
- Chaya Spitz
Jun 4, 2015
Our report on a Chasidic sect banning female drivers set off a national debate. This week, two Orthodox women answer the question:Should we drive?
Some months ago I was organising a community tour for a notable public figure, and was embarrassed when one of those present told him that as a woman, I didn't drive a car.