Community life

Shul rings changes on phones

By Jay Grenby, Radlett, August 13, 2009

Radlett Synagogue leaders are clamping down on the use of electronic devices during services to “bring some respect back into the shul”.

Members and guests have been using mobile phones, BlackBerry devices and even laptops in synagogue. One visitor was seen trying to order a takeaway at a recent Shabbat morning service. Another guest was caught discreetly videoing a barmitzvah with a camera hidden inside a tallit bag.


Joining Czech mates

August 13, 2009

Members of the Nottingham and Finchley Progressive synagogues travelled to the Czech Republic to visit Slavkov, formerly Austerlitz, from which they each have a Czech memorial Torah scroll.

The trip was organised by the Nottingham Friends of Austerlitz, working to preserve the memory of the town’s Jewish community. Just a handful survived the Holocaust and there is now only one Jewish resident, 78-year-old Ruth Matiovska, who recovered from a broken ankle in time to join a civic ceremony marking the visit.


Cancer charity is building up its caseload

By Robyn Rosen, August 13, 2009

At a time when many organisations are having to cut back, Chai Cancer Care is defying the recession by starting building work on a £1 million extension to its Hendon headquarters.

The expansion project will give Chai more space for its extensive range of services for Jewish cancer patients and their family and friends. It will further allow the charity to increase the number of people it sees each week from 350 to 450. With satellite services in Redbridge, south London and Manchester, Chai will be reaching a weekly audience of 500 when the extension opens next Pesach.


Swine flu fears lead shul to plan online Yomtov

By Robyn Rosen, August 13, 2009

Maidenhead Synagogue is making the ultimate preparation for a major swine flu outbreak with plans to transfer its High Holy-Day services online.

Minister Rabbi Jonathan Romain says that should the government call for a ban on large public gatherings, he will cancel services and connect with his Reform congregation through the internet, with recordings of prayers, shofar blasts and even sermons.

More immediate precautions include a notice to members urging them to wash their hands before kiddush and the shul is providing extra antibacterial gel dispensers, tissues and dustbins.


Sparks ignites regional improvement schemes

August 13, 2009

Awards totalling £95,000 to advance Jewish life in the regions have been announced by Sparks — the Clore Jewish Development Fund — and the Jewish Community Centre for London.

Fourteen projects spanning education, regeneration, youth and outreach work have been backed with sums ranging from £2,000 to just under £10,000. The applications were considered by a panel including Baroness Neuberger and JCC chief executive Nick Viner.


Cut-priced store helps the needy

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

A new kosher store in north-west London is attempting to assist poorer families by selling meat and groceries at little more than cost price.

The store is operating from a Dollis Hill business park, a deliberately low-key location so as not to take business away from other Jewish shops. It is being backed by a committee of communal philanthropists.

“We are simply trying to help people in the Jewish community,” said manager Moshe Monitz.

“People would rather buy with their own money than receive food parcels and feel needy.


Brigade unveils big changes

By Robyn Rosen, August 13, 2009

The Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade has announced a major revamp of its activities to meet the changing demands of young people.

A JLGB Enterprise Award will replace the Proficiency Badge Scheme which has been a staple of the organisation’s work for over 30 years.

The new award, for 11-to-14-year-olds, is part of an overhaul of its programming and training infrastructure as the brigade prepares to enter its 115th anniversary year in 2010.


Torah Centre gains planning victory

August 6, 2009

Edgware Torah Centre has received long awaited planning permission from Barnet Council to use ground floor premises in Hale Lane as a synagogue, with residential flats above.

Planning officers recommended that the proposal for the properties at 207 and 209 Hale Lane were “acceptable on balance” on policy and environmental grounds.

Objectors at the meeting raised parking concerns. But supporters of the project have cited the backing of many residents who had written to the council, plus a petition with over 100 signatories in praise of the centre’s work.


Imam joins Leo Baeck

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2009

Leo Baeck College, the Progressive rabbinic academy in London, has appointed a young British imam as a research fellow in Islamic studies.

Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al-Husseini, who grew up in Hertfordshire, will run courses on the Qur’an, Muslim-Jewish relations and Arabic.

“I am very honoured by this enormous privilege,” he said.

He has already been teaching at the college over the past year and active in its programme to encourage the comparative study of Jewish, Muslim and Christian texts.


Ravenswood stars shine at Olympics

August 6, 2009

Ravenswood residents are celebrating a glut of medals at the British Special Olympics in Leicester.

A team of 32 athletes from the Norwood community in Berkshire took home 31 medals, mostly in athletics, where the tally was three gold, six silver and 11 bronze.

There was also success in tenpin bowling, with Julian Primhak, 52, striking gold in both singles and doubles. “I won gold at the last Special Olympics, so I retained my crown,” he said. “I was thrilled to bits to win again. The whole thing was really enjoyable.”