Community life

Boot camp aids Yomtov preparation

By Simon Rocker, August 19, 2010

A group of young Jews who ran alternative Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services in 2009 have gone one better this year by launching a pre-festival programme.

Grassroots Jews are staging a series of events under the title Ellul Boot Camp, a reference to the traditional month of preparation before the Ten Days of Repentance.

It kicks off on Sunday with Warrior Art Play Day - a creative exploration of the High Holy Day themes - at the London Moishe House in Willesden.

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Floods appeal tops £40k

August 19, 2010

World Jewish Relief's emergency appeal for victims of the devastating floods in Pakistan has passed £40,000.

The money has been used to purchase family kits helping almost 6,400 people and will assist in the reconstruction of homes destroyed.

Other organisations are rallying around the WJR appeal. "As a community that has a humanitarian aspect supporting causes outside of our own interests, it's a no-brainer that we will be supporting the WJR's appeal," said Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin.

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Brighton builders discover mikveh

By Cecily Woolf, August 19, 2010

Builders working on Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation's Middle Street site have found a white-tiled mikveh in a cottage sold to the local Hillel committee last year for use as a student drop-in centre. The mikveh was discovered beneath a trapdoor under the cottage floorboards.

"The founders and builders of our community in Middle Street knew at its inception that a mikveh is at the centre of Jewish life," observed BHHC's Rabbi Herschel Rader.

But local historian and Middle Street Synagogue guide Gordon Franks was mystified by the discovery.

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Lottery cash for Norwood

August 19, 2010

A £10,000 Big Lottery Fund award to Norwood will help people with learning disabilities to acquire new domestic and work skills.

Norwood's supported employment service is piloting a scheme involving hand-held personal digital assistant devices (PDAs).

The aim is to assist clients to perform daily tasks such as tea-making, running a bath, using a photocopier or operating a DVD player.

The PDA will gradually remove steps from a pre-programmed sequence to the point where the person can perform the task from memory.

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Jeneration mercy mission

August 19, 2010

Volunteers from Jeneration, the pluralist initiative for students and young adults, spent a fortnight in Kenya helping out at a primary school for disadvantaged children and an orphanage.

The group - from London, Essex, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield - decorated two derelict classrooms at the school and taught a variety of subjects. At the orphange, they cooked, cleaned and taught English, science and maths.

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Masorti name change

August 19, 2010

The growing New Essex Masorti community is to change its name in a bid to further increase membership.

From next month, it will be known as Buckhurst Hill Masorti Synagogue, more accurately reflecting its location at the local Woollard Centre.

"We know that when people visit us, they like what they see," said co-chair Howard Robinson.

"They recognise the traditional feel of the service and enjoy the warmth and vibrancy of the community. But we still remain a bit of a hidden secret.

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Tobias pilots change in Progressive reading

By Jay Grenby, August 19, 2010

The Liberal Synagogue Elstree is to pilot a new triennial structure for Torah readings, allowing extended readings from the five books of the Torah.

Shul minister and Liberal Judaism rabbinic conference chair Pete Tobias is behind the project, drawing up the revised structure during a sabbatical. Rabbi Tobias has long believed that the yearly pattern of Torah readings in most Progressive synagogues offers an unconnected selection of excerpts giving no sense of the whole.

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Appeal over school building

By Robyn Rosen, August 19, 2010

Developers Berkeley homes will appeal against a Hackney Council decision to stop a former school site being turned into luxury homes.

In March, hackney's planning subcommittee voted 5-4 against the proposal to demolish the old Skinners' School site in Stamford hill. Members of the Belz, Satmar and Lubavitch communities campaigned against the housing proposal and campaign leader and yesodey hatorah Schools' principal rabbi Avraham pinter considered the appeal "ill-advised. They don't have a chance of success."

The hearing is set for october.

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Branching out for simchahs

By Jay Grenby, August 19, 2010

A Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue member has set up a tree of life to commemorate the many simchahs in the growing herts community.

Leaves can be used by families to mark births, bar- and batmitzvahs, weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations. Former board member Aaron Kaye was inspired by a similar initiative prompted by his father, Larry, at Bournemouth Chabad.

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West London announces Rabbi Winer's departure date

By Simon Rocker, August 19, 2010

The search has begun for a new spiritual leader for the Reform movement's flagship congregation, the West London Synagogue, after this week's announcement of the impending retirement of Rabbi Mark Winer.

Earlier this year, congregants were informed that Rabbi Winer, 67, would be stepping down, but without a date being given.

But West London chairman Jonathan Lass ended speculation in a letter informing members that Rabbi Winer would retire next month on Succot.

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