Community life

Parents call for end to King David school phones ban

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 15, 2010

A ban on mobile phone use by Manchester King David High pupils has brought a backlash from parents whose children's phones were confiscated for six weeks.

Parents were sent a letter warning of the consequences if pupils were seen with a phone outside of lunch break, even if they were not using it.

Eight handsets were confiscated on the first two days of enforcement.

One mother said pupils' safety could be jeopardised if parents could not contact them after school. Her 15-year-old son had fallen foul of the rules by receiving a text message.


Jews welcome Tory pledge to set up new schools

By Robyn Rosen, April 15, 2010

The Tories' election manifesto pledge to give parents the right to set up schools has been welcomed by communal educators.

Educational philanthropist Benjamin Perl claimed this week that 10 new Jewish schools were needed in the Hertsmere area as parents spoke of their despair at failing to obtain places for their children. Some Borehamwood parents say the situation is forcing families to leave the area.


Jewish Care launch OAP project

By Jay Grenby, April 8, 2010

A Hertfordshire collaboration for the over-60s is a product of Jewish Care's strategy of encouraging local communities to provide for their own social care needs.

The charity and the Herts Community Care Forum - whose members include representatives from virtually all the area's synagogues - are launching Young in Herts to cater for the growing number of active senior citizens in the county.


Leeds loses its kosher bakery, Chalutz

By Hayden Cohen, April 8, 2010

The last Leeds kosher bakery, Chalutz, has closed.

In a letter to customers, father and son owners Lawrence and Howard Gorsden cited "an irreversible downturn in trade" for the demise of the Moortown business run by the family for 30 years. Thanking the Gorsdens for their contribution, Leeds Jewish Representative Council president Hilton Lorie added that "the wheels are already in motion to find a successor".

Kosher bread for the local community is still available from the Kosherie and Gourmet Foods.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.