Community life

Seed flourishes with new programme

By Robyn Rosen, April 8, 2010

A new course and booklet from adult education provider Seed has found a ready domestic and international market.

The five-week course, Foundations, offers parents an "adult useful, child friendly" guide to Judaism. More than 1,000 copies in two editions have been produced and the course is currently taught at five schools. The material has been given to Israeli leadership training and outreach organisation Ner Le'Elef and an American group has also expressed interest.

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Answering a call to prayers

By Robyn Rosen, April 8, 2010

New North London Synagogue has introduced a phone-in service where members can key in a pin number to be hooked up to prayers.

"It started off with the feeling that so many people are ill or carers," explained Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, who created the service. "We wanted to do more for them and give them spiritual support."

The service is at 10.30pm every Wednesday, lasts about 10 minutes and includes short prayers, sung and spoken, and a prayer for the sick.

"It's been very moving," Rabbi Wittenberg said.

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Masorti finds friend in Glasgow

By Stephanie Brickman, April 8, 2010

The launch of Masorti Scotland has infuriated some Glasgow Orthodox synagogue leaders, but the Garnethill congregation is adopting a welcoming approach. Not only has Garnethill agreed to let out a room to the new group - it is also giving Masorti use of its Torah scrolls.

Masorti will hold its first service in the Esterton room on April 24, after which Masorti supporters will join Garnethill congregants for a kiddush. Masorti's plan is to hold fortnightly services until June and then go weekly.

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Boost for 'forgotten' Holocaust day

By Robyn Rosen, April 8, 2010

Those behind the UK commemoration of Yom Hashoah, remembering Holocaust victims, are striving to increase communal awareness.

Yom Hashoah was established by the Knesset in 1951 and is marked annually on the 27th of Nissan (this year April 11). However, Jeffrey Pinnick, co-ordinator of the Forum for Yom Hashoah, comprising 25 UK organisations, says it has languished in the shadow of Holocaust Memorial Day.

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More Butterflies are taking wing

By Jay Grenby, April 8, 2010

When the mother of north Londoner Sarah Rosen died of lung cancer, the loss felt particularly acute as it was five weeks before the birth of Mrs Rosen's first child. The experience prompted Mrs Rosen to set up Butterflies as a support group for women in a similar plight.

In the three years since, demand for the Hendon-based service convinced her of the need for more of the same, but the birth of a second child limited the time at her disposal to organise another group.

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Phones recycled in aid of Pesach food parcels

April 1, 2010

The United Synagogue has been helping to turn mobile phones into matzah over Pesach.

Supplementing the US's postal appeal in support of food parcels, the organisation's social arm, Project Chesed, asked people to donate unwanted mobiles to be recycled for cash.

To date, 80 have been handed in, ranging from BlackBerry phones to some chunky relics from the past.

Proceeds contributed towards the distribution of nearly 500 festival parcels to US members struggling to meet the extra cost of Pesach observance.

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New CEO for Jewish Care Scotland

By Stephanie Brickman, April 1, 2010

The new CEO of Jewish Care Scotland can vouch for the work of the charity, the largest communal organisation north of the border.

Suzanne Neville says that "in my family, I've had personal experience of the extent to which Jewish Care is a lifeline, when my late mother was ill. I feel I can contribute something to Jewish Care to help the team make a difference in people's lives."

The Glaswegian, who succeeds Ethne Woldman this month, is currently a director of People Matters, a development and communications company.

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Glasgow leader hits back at bloggers

By Stephanie Brickman, April 1, 2010

The chairman of Glasgow's Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue has launched a contemptuous attack on bloggers who have accused shul leaders of complicity in the sacking of Masorti man Warren Bader by Glasgow Hebrew Burial Society.

Giffnock and Newlands minister Rabbi Moshe Rubin and the shul management have come under intense and anonymous criticism over the departure of Mr Bader, a key personality in the newly launched Masorti Scotland. Those posting on a blog run by Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum have also ridiculed Giffnock and Newlands leaders for their appearance and clothes.

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Council to help 'overcrowded' Orthodox families

By Robyn Rosen, April 1, 2010

Haringey Council has approved guidelines for home extensions in an effort to address the problem of overcrowding in strictly Orthodox households in south Tottenham.

On average, there are six children per household in south Tottenham and many families live in cramped conditions. Last year, a businessman was ordered to pay £2,500 costs and given an 18-month conditional discharge after a six-year battle with the council over alterations to his home.

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Tony Blair praises Tzedek in Passover message

April 1, 2010

Tony Blair has paid tribute to international development charity Tzedek in a Pesach message.

"The need to repair a broken world, tikkun olam, is deeply embedded in Jewish community values," Mr Blair wrote. Tzedek was "making a real and sustainable difference to the lives of those living on the poverty line".

He took encouragement from the trend of "people of faith, and the Jewish community in particular, donating more and more to those outside their own faith and locality and giving to global causes".

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