Community extra

Hebrew U scholar gets Oxford chair

July 9, 2009

A scholar of international renown has been appointed to a new chair at Oxford University for the study of Abrahamic religions.

Guy Stroumsa, the Martin Buber professor of comparative religion at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, takes up the post in October and will be a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall.

Professor Stroumsa stresses the importance of the comparative study of religions, “and in particular of the monotheistic religions, as contemporary problems demand intellectual attention on the religious and historical roots of our current predicaments.”


Volunteer force reports growth in numbers

By Simon Rocker, July 9, 2009

The Jewish Volunteering Network has more than tripled the number of people on its books in under a year, the organisation’s first conference was told on Monday.

Inquiries from prospective volunteers have risen to more than 1,000 from 300 last September, while more than 130 organisations have registered with it.

Set up three years ago as an “appropriate response to a real need”, JVN was saluted by keynote speaker Professor Margaret Harris, an expert on voluntary organisations in the UK.


Bonus for favourite builder

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 9, 2009

The non-Jewish construction boss responsible for many key Manchester Jewish organisational buildings was honoured by communal leaders on Wednesday.

Harry Johnston’s company built the Brookvale special needs home, sections of the Heathlands care village and Broughton Jewish Primary School.

Over 40 people were at the surprise ceremony at the Bnei Akiva bayit in Salford, another of his builds. Mr Johnston had attended under the misconception that he was being consulted over a leaky roof.


Bumper crop from Leo Baeck

By Keren David, July 9, 2009

Eight Progressive rabbis were ordained on Sunday at the largest graduation ceremony held by Leo Baeck College.

Seven-hundred people were at West London Synagogue to support the new rabbis, “whose influence will be felt by a generation to come”, said Leo Baeck vice-principal Rabbi Michael Shire. “We are proud of their high academic achievements and skilled pastoral and spiritual abilities.”


Astronaut's tales of space- and bagels

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

A Nasa astronaut made a happy landing in Kenton where his tales of space travel enthralled the 650 pupils at the Sobell Sinai Primary.

Greg Chamitoff served a six-month tour of duty on the International Space Station last year, working alongside two Russians. The 46-year-old Texan is linked to Sinai through his cousin Karen Diamond, whose two children are pupils.

Mrs Diamond and her husband Julian helped to organise this week’s visit, having previously arranged a live satellite link-up between pupils and Mr Chamitoff during his space mission in September.


London community launches manifesto

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

The aspirations and concerns of London Jewry have been collated and published in one document for the first time.

Minister for London Tessa Jowell welcomed the publication of the Towards A London Jewish Manifesto at a breakfast for the capital’s Parliamentarians on Wednesday. Although produced under the banner of the London Jewish Forum, more than 20 communal organisations have contributed to it.


My Community - Ronnie Taylor

June 11, 2009

Originally from Manchester, Ronnie Taylor and his wife Linda moved to Brighton in 1978 and on to Eastbourne in 1982 for his job as an adviser to the then Dental Estimates Board. They immediately became involved in the Eastbourne shul, which Mr Taylor, 74, now chairs. The synagogue currently has 60 members, including Sally Brown, one of the Taylors’ three children, who is security officer and events organiser. The batmitzvah of Mrs Brown’s daughter Cleo was believed to be the first at the shul

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Wembley date for good sports nets UJIA £216,000

By James Martin, June 11, 2009

The sporting stars came out for a dinner quiz at Wembley Stadium which raised £216,000 for UJIA.

Olympic rowing double gold medallist James Cracknell, ITV football pundit Robbie Earle, former England cricketer Chris Cowdrey and steeplechaser Jo Ankier were among the 400 guests.

Host for the evening was ITV Sport presenter Matt Smith, who introduced himself as “the credit crunch’s Jeff Stelling,” a reference to the Sky Sports host and previous compere of the event, now in its 11th year.


Birmingham shul downsizes

By Sasha Brenner, June 11, 2009

Birmingham Central Synagogue is close to tying up a £1 million-plus deal with a local housing association to redevelop its Edgbaston site for a declining congregation.

At the shul’s AGM early next month, its 200 members will be asked to support the sale of two-thirds of the site to Birmingham-based housing association Optima.


Manchester legend dies at 106

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 11, 2009

The Manchester woman believed to be Britain’s oldest Jew has died three weeks after her 106th birthday.

Dolly Phillips devoted most of her life to helping others, running the Manchester Jewish Soup Kitchen and introducing a kosher meals-on-wheels service. She was awarded a British Empire Medal for her welfare efforts.