Social Action

Interview: Debbie Danon

By Jessica Elgot, February 17, 2011

In a comprehensive in East London, where only the ornate white tower of the local Hindu temple rises above the low terraced housing, a group of 35 14-year olds are having a lesson in interfaith understanding. There is not a single white face.


Charity that bridges a culture clash

By Jessica Elgot, February 3, 2011

Keren Simons, an intern at Bedouin NGO Alnuhud, knows first-hand what problems can occur when outsiders try to help a traditional community. The 25-year-old Oxford University graduate is the first New Israel Fund UK William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship. She is currently based in Beersheva, promoting education for Bedouin women in the Negev.


Comment: We must rethink how we give in 2011

By Charles Keidan, February 3, 2011

The Government has challenged us to create a Big Society in which people, not the state, take more responsibility for their own lives and those of fellow citizens. British Jewry is well equipped to meet this challenge.


Chris Huhne helps with green push

By Robyn Rosen, January 13, 2011

A campaign to motivate the community into becoming more environmentally conscious is being launched with the backing of Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne.

The Big Green Jewish Campaign is an initiative of the Jewish Social Action Forum, a body of organisations including the Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC) and human rights group RenéCassin.

Organisers have set different themes for the first four years of the campaign, beginning with the Year of the Bagel, focusing on food packaging.


Your seasonal guide to giving time

By Jessica Elgot, December 16, 2010

While the rest of the nation eats turkey and gathers round the Christmas tree, Jews across the country are exploring the real meaning of the season of goodwill. This year hundreds of people will dedicate the 12 days of Christmas to volunteering with the homeless, the sick, Holocaust survivors, the elderly and disabled people - taking a break on Christmas Day, which falls on Shabbat.


Comment: Social action is now the norm

By Daniel Reisel, December 2, 2010

For many years, the Jewish community was more concerned with its survival and continuity than an outward-looking purpose.

But in a recent study asking 18-to-25 year-olds what it means to be Jewish, 82 per cent responded: "Making the world a better place."

Why is it that many young Jews now consider social justice an integral part of their specifically Jewish identity?


Laura's Rwanda mercy mission

By Jessica Elgot, December 2, 2010

Laura Roth says her late brother's passion for helping survivors of the Rwandan genocide inspired her to go on World Jewish Relief's Rwandan mission to honour his memory.

Ms Roth, 28, from Finchley, has always wanted to visit the country. Her brother Nick, who died six years ago in a climbing accident, had been planning to work at the Rwandan genocide tribunals in Tanzania.

"He was passionate about helping under-privileged kids around the world. He'd never visited the country and so when the opportunity came up for me to go, it was amazing."


Charity head: 'We need a bigger state'

By Jessica Elgot, December 2, 2010

An Israeli philanthropist has complained that charities are expected to pull people out of poverty while the British and Israeli governments look to shirk the responsibility.

Rabbi Abraham Israel founded charitable network Hazon Yeshaya 15 years ago, after making aliyah from the US. It runs soup kitchens serving 400,000 meals a month and administers Israel's only free vocational courses. He was in London for the fundraising dinner for Hazon Yeshaya's British supporters.


A drop-in for refugees

By Jessica Elgot, November 12, 2010

Why did you choose this cause?
Many are homeless and sleep on friends’ floors, night buses or in parks. Their plight has particular resonance with the Jewish people. Since March 2006, we have worked with more than 1,000 asylum seekers from 40 countries. We have volunteer lawyers, doctors, therapists, interpreters and childcare professionals.

Why does it make a difference?


Human rights? That’s our speciality

By Jessica Elgot, November 12, 2010

The new director of the Jewish human rights charity RenéCassin has a controversial background — she spent the past three years at Human Rights Watch in New York.

But Sydney-born Simone Abel, 29, said nothing could have been better preparation for her new job in London than working for HRW, which has been accused of anti-Israel bias.

The “disproportionate attention” HRW gives to Israel has been criticised by many activists, politicians and journalists. Last month, Jewish anti-Zionist businessman George Soros gave $100 million to the organisation.