Community life

Hull celebrates first Pidyon HaBen in 23 years

By Marcus Dysch, July 1, 2010

Hull Hebrew Congregation has celebrated a rare simchah - the city's first Pidyon HaBen for 23 years.

Kimberley and Avi Schwartz from Jerusalem decided to hold the biblical redemption ceremony in east Yorkshire after bringing their one-month-old son Akiva Menachem to visit family in Mrs Schwartz's home community.

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Limmud provides a World Cup alternative

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 1, 2010

Organisers of Sunday's Limmud in Manchester organised an accomplished team of speakers as a counter-attraction to England's World Cup travails.

A decent proportion of the 250 people who attended heard bill-topping writer Howard Jacobson discuss passages from his forthcoming novel, which humorously focuses on anti-Zionism as the new antisemitism.

"Central to the book is how uncomfortable it is to be a Jew in England at the moment."

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Embassy send off for aliyah group

July 1, 2010

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor hosted a reception at the embassy for 120 British Jews about to make aliyah.

"Tonight we celebrate the greatest journey a Jew can undertake," he told the group. "Not the North Circular during rush hour, but aliyah - your journey home."

The reception was organised by the Jewish Agency.

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Luton synagogue consecrated by Chief Rabbi

By Jay Grenby, July 1, 2010

Consecrating Luton Hebrew Congregation's new synagogue on Sunday was a nostalgic experience for Lord Sacks, who began his rabbinic career in the town 35 years ago.

"I was head of your cheder and I also helped to take some of the services, since when I have moved on to lower things," the Chief Rabbi joked. He was pleased to see several familiar faces from that time, particularly honorary life vice-president Wally Bard.

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£100k for Jewish Blind and Disabled

July 1, 2010

A moving talk from the mother of a Jewish Blind and Disabled tenant encouraged JBD supporters to donate £100,000 at a central London reception hosted by Susan and Stephen James.

Lorraine Duskwick told more than 150 guests how JBD had transformed the life of her 26-year-old son Joel, who has cerebral palsy that affects movement in his right hand and leg and impairs his speech.

The charity's six purpose-built blocks of modern apartments help 320 physically disabled or vision-impaired people to lead independent lives.

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JFS goes back to Cornwall

By Jessica Elgot, July 1, 2010

Former JFS pupils evacuated to Cornwall during the war retraced their steps from Paddington to Penzance 70 years later.

More than 100 JFS students, aged between five and 13, and five teachers were billeted to families in the fishing village of Mousehole in June 1940. JFS was temporarily housed at Mousehole village school.

Eight of the evacuees and their families attended the reunion, including a visit to the school and the presentation of an anniversary plaque.

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Bournemouth breakaway group takes Liberal stance

By Corinne Rein, July 1, 2010

The Southern Jewish Community, established by disaffected Bournemouth Reform congregants, is in discussions with the Liberal movement.

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich addressed 70 people at an open meeting organised by the community at a local hotel. Afterwards, Rabbi Rich spoke to 40 community members, whose spokesman Nat Roseman said they would be pursuing the relationship.

The movement would help in the arranging and conducting of services and with the practical aspects of establishing a Liberal congregation.

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Top dayan answers conversion questions

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The London Beth Din's most senior judge has openly addressed one of the most sensitive areas of its work - conversion - in a public lecture.

Dayan Menachem Gelley spoke for nearly two hours, answering questions for half the time, as the concluding speaker in a series on conversion at the London School of Jewish Studies.

Explaining the Beth Din's policy, he said that every convert had to mirror the Israelites' original acceptance of the 613 commandments at the giving of the Torah at Sinai.

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Preview of Polish Jewish museum

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Warsaw's Museum of Polish Jewish history is not due to open until 2012, but a London audience enjoyed a sneak preview.

Kathy Jones of museum designers Event Communications led a virtual tour, using artist's images of the building, which is now under construction.

Her presentation formed part of an international conference on Jewish links with Warsaw at the Institute of Jewish Studies, attached to University College London's department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

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Survivor praises Holocaust play

July 1, 2010

A play sympathetic to Nazi guards has been lauded by an Auschwitz survivor.

Arek Hersh, 82, was among the audience when The Interview,by Jayson Bartlett, was performed in Leeds. He said he had found it both realistic and engrossing.

The play is about the interviewer of a survivor who discovers that his father was a death camp guard.

Mr Bartlett spent five years researching the work and feels it unfair to think of the guards solely as "inhumane". He is taking the play to York in August and hopes to bring it to London.

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