Community life

Church wants to buy Welsh synagogue

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, December 23, 2008

Swansea Hebrew Congregation is selling its 67-year-old synagogue building to a church group.

The community has less than a dozen-and-a-half active members with an average age of 70. Others have moved away but retain membership for burial or sentimental reasons.

If the sale to the LifePoint Church is completed, the congregation will be able to rent a small hall in the premises to continue services.


Shabbat is delayed for Blue Peter crew

By Jay Grenby, December 23, 2008

Edgware Synagogue congregants were more than a little surprised when their rabbi asked them to turn up on a Sunday afternoon for a Shabbat service.

But there was no shortage of volunteers — particularly among the younger members of the community — when it was revealed that the request was because of a visit by a Blue Peter camera crew and Jewish presenter Joel Defries.

They were filming for a segment to be broadcast on January 27, Holocaust Memorial Day.


Sweet finish to Montefiore tribute

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2008

A bygone treat — a lemon tart baked according to the recipe of Judith, Lady Montefiore — was served to 120 people at Lauderdale Road Synagogue, Maida Vale, including the Israeli Ambassador, the Chief Rabbi and the Earl of Balfour.

The historic dessert rounded off a dinner to celebrate two of British Jewry’s greatest supporters of Israel — Lady Montefiore’s husband, Sir Moses, the Victorian philanthropist, and Dr Moses Gaster, who led the Sephardic community as Haham from 1887 to 1918.


‘Support our heritage sites’

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 23, 2008

As Culture Secretary Andy Burnham launched a £1.5 million scheme to part-fund heritage officers for historic places of worship, a warning was sounded over the Jewish community’s failure to support its many heritage sites.

Dr Sharman Kadish, director of Jewish Heritage — working to preserve more than 40 protected Jewish sites across the UK — was among guests at the English Heritage event in Manchester at which Mr Burnham announced the initiative.


Women get a voice on Federation council

By Jay Grenby, December 23, 2008

An Edgware Yeshurun congregant has become the first woman to speak at the Federation of Synagogues council.

Miriam Gitlin addressed the council after it finally agreed to permit women to attend and speak at its quarterly meetings — they are not allowed to vote. Sitting alongside Mrs Gitlin was Karen Dworkin, who was also elected recently by Edgware Yeshurun to join its seven male representatives. The Edgware shul has long campaigned for the Federation to more fully recognise the contribution of women.


Caring tales promote £30k welfare appeal

December 23, 2008

Jewish Care hopes that two emotive accounts of people it has helped will encourage contributions to its Chanucah appeal, which has a £30,000 target.

A pack sent to potential donors features the story of Jack and Joan, who are both in their nineties. When Joan was diagnosed with dementia a year ago, Jack was unable to cope and turned to Jewish Care for help. They are now being looked after at the charity’s Kay Court home in Hampstead.


Lead role in Israel for UK-trained guide dog

By Jay Grenby, December 23, 2008

A golden labrador trained in the UK for the Israel Guide Dogs for the Blind Centre has “made aliyah”.

Minty was put on to an El Al plane at Heathrow by Gill Stoller, the Pinner Israel Action Group member who has taught and cared for her for the past year.

In Israel, she was handed over to her new handlers by fellow Pinner Synagogue member Hilary West, who had volunteered to oversee Minty’s transfer while on a trip to visit her daughter.


Queen delights residents at Ravenswood

By Leon Symons, December 18, 2008

There were cheers from flag-waving staff and residents as the Queen made her first visit to Norwood’s Ravenswood village in Berkshire to open a new facility last Thursday.

The Queen, Norwood’s royal patron, spent an hour touring The Precinct, which houses a number of therapy workshops, before opening the Pamela Barnett Centre, a £3 million home for 16 adults with profound learning disabilities.

Among the first people the Queen met were Peter Girvin, Laurence Black, Stephen Treisman and Jackie Andresier, who were cycling gold medallists at the national Special Olympics.


Israelis find new market

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, December 18, 2008

Organisers of an Israeli street market which traded in Golders Green from Sunday to Tuesday say it was the perfect riposte to those advocating boycotts of Israeli goods.

Zionist Federation executive director Alan Aziz said a key aim of A Taste of Israel was to introduce the non-Jewish market to Israeli food, beauty products, arts and crafts and jewellery. “I overheard one person ask a stall-owner: ‘So what’s life really like in Israel?’ That’s fantastic. We want to promote Israel in a non-political way so people can see it as the great country it is.”


Volunteers out for the holidays

By Marcus Dysch, December 18, 2008

Three hundred Jewish volunteers are expected to help out at care facilities and deliver food parcels over the Christmas and New Year period.

The Light up a Life scheme will be the second run by the Tikun charity, which reports that the response is double that of the inaugural year.
Volunteers will serve in soup kitchens and staff homeless centres. They will also visit residents at Jewish Care homes whose relatives may find it difficult to get to see them over the holiday period.