Community life

US reserve Israel burial spots

By Simon Rocker, September 16, 2010

The United Synagogue has received the first reservations for its newly acquired burial plots in Israel.

US burial head Melvyn Hartog told the organisation's council on Monday that a £1,000 deposit had been made for two plots in the Eretz Hachayim cemetery near Bet Shemesh.The US has bought an initial 50 spaces in the cemetery, which is situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Additionally, arrangements can be made for US members to be buried in 14 other Israeli cemeteries.

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Maidenhead feels at home with tapestry

September 16, 2010

Maidenhead Reform Synagogue has solved a long-time problem - thanks to 13 kilometres of gold thread.

For many years, the synagogue has been unable to accommodate its 800 families for High Holy Day services in its own building.

To keep the community together, they are instead held in a local community centre. However, Rabbi Jonathan Romain acknowledges that the atmosphere has not been the same as in the synagogue proper.

To address the problem, he commissioned one of the community's artistic talents, Karen Broude, to produce a giant tapestry depicting a shofar.

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Rabbi warns: 'don't exaggerate antisemitism'

By Simon Rocker, September 16, 2010

West London Synagogue senior rabbi Mark Winer warned against exaggerating the threat of antisemitism in the UK in his final Rosh Hashanah address to his congregation.

Although antisemitism was widespread, "we need to acknowledge that antisemitism does not really pose that much of a threat to Jews on a day-to-day basis," he said.

In general, he believed that "we Jews overestimate the threat of antisemitism as a part of our historically justified paranoia. But we run a serious risk of obsessive focus on it."

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Leeds IDF festival experiment

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 16, 2010

An Israeli Defence Forces chaplain has brought overseas aid to the experimental Rosh Hashanah programme run by Leeds' Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue.

The shul's Rabbi Jason Kleiman said American-born Rabbi Shalom Hammer "gave a very powerful presentation about role of observant soldier in the IDF. It was the first time shiurim ran alongside services. The feedback has been very positive." The experimental programme had found favour with many who would not otherwise engage in services.

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Birmingham backs synagogue downsizing

September 16, 2010

Birmingham Central Synagogue members have overwhelmingly supported plans to sell its Pershore Road shul and transform its community centre into a smaller synagogue.

The vote was taken after two hours' discussion at an EGM last week. Of the 108 members present, 90 per cent voted in a secret ballot to proceed with the scheme.

It is envisioned that a care home developer will purchase the land at the front of the 1.5-acre site, which houses the 50-year-old synagogue building and a large part of the car park.

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Shofars and power tools

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 7, 2010

Over 180 people got ready for Rosh Hashanah by making their own shofar through a Whitefield Chabad workshop on Sunday.

Parents were encouraged to bring their own power tools but children also got the chance to construct a shofar from a raw horn.

They were told why it is sounded and about Rosh Hashanah and its customs.

Whitefield Chabad director Rabbi Shmuli Jaffe said the idea was to have "adults working alongside their kids and helping each other. It was very interactive."

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Cancer charity opens extra Manchester service

September 7, 2010

Chai Cancer Care has opened a new south Manchester branch serving cancer patients and their families.

Operating from two refurbished rooms at the Morris Feinmann Home in Didsbury, the charity will provide counselling, massage, reflexology and acupuncture to cancer sufferers.

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Manchester Zionists on the move

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 7, 2010

Salford's Bnei Akiva bayit will be the last remaining Zionist building in Greater Manchester after the closure of Mamlock House, the former home to Manchester's Israel charities.

Manchester's Zionist Central Council is due to open its new offices at the bayit on October 4 as a temporary measure.

An extension to the bayit will be funded from the Mamlock House sale proceeds.

"It's a bit of a disaster," bayit director Shimon Gillis admitted. "We've got one large building, but loads of organisations are approaching us to use the bayit. It's going to be impossible to juggle."

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WJR's naked ambition for winter appeal

September 7, 2010

World Jewish Relief is counting on a warm-hearted response to its Operation Winter Survivor Campaign to collect essential winter items in Eastern Europe.

And to promote the initiative, the charity gave the "Naked Lady" statue at Henly's Corner, Finchley, some temporary covering in the form of a WJR scarf.

The campaign target is 10,000 items for dispatch before December, when temperatures in some areas can drop below minus 20 degrees. As well as donating new or nearly new goods, supporters are being asked to contribute £5 towards transport costs via a text facility.

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Customer care boost in Manchester

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 7, 2010

The Federation of Jewish Services in Manchester is mirroring an NHS strategy with a new post to boost customer service.

Shira Baram has started work as customer care co-ordinator, a role based on the Patient Advice Liaison Service offered in hospitals, which is designed to improve the NHS by better recording feedback and complaints.

She will be the person to turn to for Heathlands residents, care clients and their families when they feel services do not meet expectations, or could be improved.

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