Community life

Cambridge Reform to build new synagogue

November 26, 2009

Cambridge Reform is to build a synagogue after a nomadic 25 years in the city.

The 250-member Beth Shalom congregation raised £500,000 to buy a 400-square metre city council site in central Cambridge.

Synagogue chairman Frank Harris said the community now needed to raise a further £1 million to fund construction of the premises. “A lot of work is still to be done,” he said.

A committee has been set up to oversee the building’s design, planning and construction and a local architect has been appointed.

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Chief Rabbi's plea for pride in Judaism

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 26, 2009

Lack of pride in Judaism and its achievements had increased assimilation and reduced the community’s ability to defend Israel, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks told 100 Manchester leaders on Sunday.

Before an audience including Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis at the local representative council, Lord Sacks declared: “If we are not strong in ourselves, how can we fight the massive challenges that face us? Non-Jews respect Jews who respect Judaism.”

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Chancellor's wife tours JBD flat

November 26, 2009

When Maggie Darling hosted Jewish Blind and Disabled’s 40th anniversary celebration at 11 Downing Street in October, the Chancellor’s wife promised to visit a JBD property.

True to her word, Mrs Darling breezed into the charity’s Frances and Dick James Court in Mill Hill last Thursday to tour the 42-flat facility and meet staff and tenants.

One of the first things she saw was the wall of dedications from donors, where she stopped to study the inscriptions, remarking: “It’s very moving — I cannot think of a better memorial.”

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Mitzvah Day: Show of faith in Elstree

By Jan Grenby, November 19, 2009

Three Hertsmere shuls were represented on Mitzvah Day at A Celebration of Faiths, the launch of the borough’s inaugural Interfaith Week.

The Liberal Synagogue Elstree’s Shul of Rock kicked-off the event at Borehamwood’s Village Hall before a crowd of several hundred including Hertsmere Mayor Councillor Rosemary Gilligan. The performance of Shul of Rock — a band of teenage musicians supplemented by minister Rabbi Pete Tobias on guitar — was markedly different to the church choirs that followed them.

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Mitzvah Day: New communities join initiative

November 19, 2009

Regional communities supporting Mitzvah Day for the first time included Bristol, where volunteers from the shuls and university collected groceries for the local Refugee Action Centre.

Both the Orthodox and Progressive synagogues installed boxes for members to donate spectacles for the VisionAid charity. A third project was a blood donor drive.

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Mitzvah Day: Scottish communities clear up

By Stephanie Brickman, November 19, 2009

In a collaboration between Glasgow UJIA, Maccabi and Giffnock and Newlands Hebrew Congregation, 50 Scottish youngsters tidied up the Jewish cemeteries at Sandymount, Glenduffhill and Cardonald and volunteered at care homes.

Giffnock and Newlands minister Rabbi Moshe Rubin took youngsters to the new branch of Mark’s Deli, where they asked shoppers to donate an item of food.

A similar initiative took place at the Hello Deli, with all donated goods distributed to the homeless.

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Mitzvah Day: Corrie actress takes leading role

November 19, 2009

Coronation Street actress Kate Anthony opened the Leeds Mitzvah Day programme, telling supporters at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre that “people shouldn’t just do a mitzvah on Mitzvah Day, but should do a small good deed to help somebody every day”.

She then made her own contribution by taping a short story for users of Leeds Jewish Blind Society’s Talking Books scheme.

Also in the city, volunteers ran a bingo session for Donisthorpe Hall’s elderly residents, who were further entertained by an X-Factor-style talent contest co-ordinated by Helen Frais.

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Mitzvah Day: Praise from government

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Communities Secretary John Denham has praised Mitzvah Day, saying it “encourages development of shared values” in the wider community.

“People of Jewish faith, from all ages and backgrounds, took part to make a difference by helping people less fortunate than themselves.”

Volunteering or participating in activities like buying additional food to distribute to the less fortunate promoted values “that enrich and strengthen the communities we live in”.

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Mitzvah Day: Refugees get dinner invitation to St Albans

By Jay Grenby, November 19, 2009

There was food for thought as teenagers from St Albans Masorti Synagogue dined with youngsters of similar ages who arrived in Hertfordshire as unaccompanied migrant children.

Many of the refugees had made perilous journeys from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, in some cases clinging on to the underside of trucks and coaches. Taken into the care of the local county council, they often remain isolated from normal teenage life and struggle to make friends with Britons of their own age.

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Mitzvah Day: Founder delighted at success

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Laura Marks has seen participation in Mitzvah Day snowball since she launched it five years ago. But she feels there is potential to achieve much more.

The 49-year-old Primrose Hill mum was inspired by a similar project in America.

“I felt British Jewry could really benefit from something like this.

“This year has been overwhelming. The fact you can get so many people to get out of bed on a Sunday and physically engage is quite extraordinary.

“I hope it will become the norm that on the day the whole community goes out to make a difference.”

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