Community life

Blue Peter’s Joel Defries’ HMD journey

By Jay Grenby, January 29, 2009

A desire to fulfil his late grandfather’s dearest wish took Blue Peter presenter Joel Defries on an emotional journey for the programme broadcast for HMD on Tuesday.

Mr Defries’ ancestors came to the UK from Holland, Poland and Lithuania — the earliest in the 18th century. He was born in London, but spent some of his early years in New Zealand, joining grandparents who had emigrated there. His grandfather had always hoped that Mr Defries, a non-practising Jew, would get to know more about his Jewish background.


A nation remembers and educates

January 29, 2009

Northwood’s four-day HMD programme — the largest of its type in the UK — launched on Monday with the first group from the anticipated 2,000 secondary school pupils and teachers from Harrow, Hillingdon and Hertsmere.

Organised jointly by the Northwood United and Liberal shuls, the scheme is in its eighth year. Many civic leaders were at the opening, where survivor Ziggy Shipper preached against hatred.


Police are out in force for HMD events

By Jay Grenby and Hannah Leader, January 29, 2009

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears told a gathering of senior policemen and community leaders at Western Marble Arch Synagogue of her delight at the wide range of age and backgrounds of those involved in HMD activities.

Organised in conjunction with the Association of Police Authorities, the get-together was the latest arranged by the APA to raise awareness of diversity. Around 90 senior officers took part in a day-long seminar, followed by dinner and a programme of prayer, poetry and song to mark HMD.


Bury MP Ivan Lewis kicks off for United

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 29, 2009

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis kicked-off Manchester’s HMD programme by starting a football friendly on Sunday between Manchester Maccabi and FC United, the club founded by fans opposed to the Glazers’ takeover of Manchester United. The 300 crowd at the Maccabi sports centre also heard a talk from survivor Jack Aizenberg.

Maccabi’s project manager Suzy Gellman said the match was FC United’s idea. “It showed communities standing up to hatred and using sports to get that message across.”


Shoah story reaches 90,000

By Cathy Forman, January 29, 2009

Belsen survivor Rudi Oppenheimer told London Mayor Boris Johnson and other civic leaders at the HMD ceremony at City Hall: “Soon there will be no one left to tell the story.”

Mr Oppenheimer estimated that he had related his experiences to 90,000 young people in 950 sessions at schools. “I am the witness,” he said.

The mayor declared that as no words of his could be as powerful as those of a survior, he had chosen to read If, a “shocking and frightening poem” by playwright Edward Bond which pondered the outcome “if Auschwitz had been in Hampshire”.


New at Northwood

January 29, 2009

Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman is Northwood Synagogue’s new minister and will take up the post in time for Pesach.

The appointment of the 30-year-old, who recently received semichah in Israel, was overwhelmingly approved by the 130 Northwood congregants who came to the shul to hear him speak and answer questions.


Palmers Green minister fights US plan to make him part-time

By Jay Grenby, January 29, 2009

Palmers Green and Southgate Synagogue’s Rabbi Emanuel Levy is fighting a move to make his position part-time in a cost-cutting measure.

Although a United Synagogue spokesman suggested that the 60-year-old minister had accepted the change, Rabbi Levy said on Monday that he would appeal against the decision.

“I believe that the need for my services is as great now as it has ever been. We maintain regular daily services, shirum, education and welfare activities, exactly as we have always done.”


Burns Night hots up

By Jenni Frazer, January 29, 2009

Few people could fairly be claimed as a favourite by both Abraham Lincoln and Bob Dylan. And yet 250 years after his birth in rural Ayrshire, the power of the poet Robert Burns still resonates, making him the ideal fund-raising vehicle for Glasgow’s Jewish expatriates.

The self-explanatory charity committee, Glasgow Girls in London, got together two years ago to raise money for education and welfare charities in their home city.


Luton shul finds a permanent home

By Jay Grenby, January 22, 2009

Luton Hebrew Congregation has completed the £225,000 purchase of a building in Dunstable Road for a synagogue and community centre.

The deal heralds the end of a nomadic existence for the community of 100-or-so members, which has been operating from a series of temporary premises. The move to a pleasant residential location is especially welcome for minister Rabbi Yossi Schwei and his family.


Senitt scheme trains future leaders

January 22, 2009

Sixty year 10 pupils from four London schools are taking part in the inaugural Alan Senitt community leadership programme, launched in memory of the young British political activist and communal personality who was murdered in Washington DC in 2006.

Set up in partnership with the government-backed Shared Futures project and the Streetwise charity, the scheme links single-faith and multifaith schools including Immanuel College in Bushey and Nower Hill High in Pinner, where Mr Senitt had been a pupil.