Community life

Balls praises JCoSS ethos

By Marcus Dysch, April 23, 2009

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said this week that the cross-communal JCoSS secondary school in Barnet will be a beacon for tackling discrimination and prejudice.

“This is a very important and significant day,” Mr Balls told the 200 guests at Monday’s ground-breaking ceremony for the £50 million project.

“This is a time when we have to redouble our efforts, say discrimination is wrong and stand together, community by community, to root out intolerance and prejudice. That is what this school is about.

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Reel stars

By James Martin, April 16, 2009

United Synagogue burial head Melvyn Hartog and 15 Ilford Synagogue members will make their big screen debuts in a film by Gurinder Chada, whose hits include Bend It Like Beckham and Bride And Prejudice.

They featured in a scene shot at Willesden cemetery for It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, which is described as a mixture of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Shaun Of The Dead. The scene is about a Jewish grandmother, played by Zoe Wanamaker, envisioning her own funeral. Mr Hartog portrays the rabbi who comforts the mourners — the Ilford shul members — and wishes them long life.

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Health talk

April 16, 2009

The Charedi community in Stamford Hill is being consulted by the NHS on how it could better understand their medical needs.

Residents will be canvassed on issues including mixed hospital wards, which the community strongly opposes.

A questionnaire has been devised on behalf of City and Hackney Primary Care Trust with the help of local Jewish GPs and the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

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Secret prize for cantors

By Lawrence Joffe, April 16, 2009

An anonymous benefactor has made the dreams come true for four budding cantors.

The short-listed contestants at the Julian Klein Scholarship concert at St John’s Wood Synagogue, each sang two melodies from the synagogue liturgy, and audience members, in true X-Factor style, handed in voting slips for their favourite. Ultimately, vox populi was balanced by a panel of cantorial experts and Yossi Schwarz was declared the winner for his presentation, vocal range, lyrical colouring and passionate delivery.

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Asylum aid

By James Martin, April 16, 2009

Board of Deputies president Henry Grunwald has praised the drop-in centre for asylum seekers run by the New North London Synagogue, Finchley, as “a fantastic example of how a local community can make a difference”.

Mr Grunwald visited the centre along with London’s Deputy Mayor, Richard Barnes, at the behest of Edie Friedman, director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, which supports the centre’s work.

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Sisters cut it fine

By Jessica Elgot, April 16, 2009

Three Hendon sisters have made the ultimate cuts for Pesach, having had hair grown over three years lopped off to be used for wigs for children with cancer.

The Blank girls — Yael, 15, Michal, 13 and Rachel, 11 — also raised almost £1,000 in sponsorship for Israeli cancer charity Zichron Menachem by performing a play about their project.

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Five in battle for board VP places

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2009

With a record four candidates competing to become president of the Board of Deputies next month, a second race is under way for the three vice-presidential posts.

Five people have confirmed their candidacy, or said they are considering standing, for the number two positions when deputies go to the polls on May 17.

One of the three current vice-presidents, Paul Edlin, who represents Glasgow’s Garnethill Synagogue and chairs the board’s community issues division, will be campaigning for a second three-year term.

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Campus aid for disabled

April 7, 2009

A disability charity is rolling out a new initiative across campuses offering support for disabled Jewish students.

Working in conjunction with UJS Hillel, Jewish Blind and Disabled aims to give the students greater independence through providing specialist equipment, help with living arrangements and improved access to facilities. JBD chief executive Hazel Kaye said: “We’re really testing the water to see what students need from us.”

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Religious parking

April 7, 2009

Barnet Council’s “pray and display” religious parking permits have proved particularly popular with Jewish community representatives.

A permanent feature from the beginning of April after a successful trial, the £40-a-year permits allow those carrying out religious duties in the borough to park in residents’ bays. The council says the scheme fits its core priority of helping those in spiritual need.

Of the 48 permits issued to date, 18 have been taken up by Jewish groups, the largest number from a particular faith.

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Square’s family circle at 70

By Ruth Rothenberg, April 7, 2009

Belsize Square Synagogue’s 70th anniversary service was a family affair with the thanksgiving address delivered by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, grandson of Belsize Square’s first minister.

Rabbi Wittenberg, who heads the New North London Synagogue, drew on memories of growing up in the German-Jewish refugee community, recalling that the refugees had arrived destitute and disoriented.

But they had been welcomed by the Liberal Jewish movement and had thrived through acts of chesed (kindness), and by giving each other a helping hand.

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