Africa

Women back protest over Congo atrocities

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2009

A Progressive rabbi was among the participants in a high-profile event to call for an end to the atrocities in the one of the world’s worst conflict zones, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk of Westminster Synagogue joined a multi-faith rally last Thursday at London’s Albert Hall to highlight the rape and torture of women and girls in the eastern part of the country, in particular.

The event marked 100 years since the Great Congo Demonstration, held at the same venue, to protest against murder and slavery at that time.

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A day of pride for Ethiopians

By Ben Lynfield, November 19, 2009

For their forebears in Ethiopia, the Sigd was a religious holiday renewing their covenant with God and expressing longing for Zion. But for many among the thousands marking it in Jerusalem on Monday, the festival was more of a day of ethnic pride.

“The sigd is very empowering,” said Aviva Nagosa, 32. “It is the only thing left that joins us all together.”

While in Ethiopia, the Sigd highlighted the uniqueness of the Beta Yisrael — the ancient Jewish community — amongst their Ethiopian neighbours, today it defines them as a distinguished group among other Israeli Jews.

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Zimbabwe needs money, says South African Rabbi

By Moira Schneider, November 12, 2009

The community in Zimbabwe is still in dire need of financial help because of the erosion of the value of their currency, says the South African rabbi in charge of aid efforts.

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft will be awarded the 2009 Commonwealth Jewish Council and Trust Anniversary Award by London Mayor Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

One of three recipients, he was selected for his “dedication and service to the Jewish people of sub-Saharan Africa and in particular for his brave support and crucial visits with supplies for the remaining Jewish community in Zimbabwe.”

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Lev Leviev agrees to debt deal

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

Israeli billionaire and Lubavitch philanthropist Lev Leviev has reached an agreement to refinance the loans that his company took out from banks and pension funds in Israel.

Africa-Israel announced two months ago that it would have trouble repaying the loans, which total £1.2 billion. Mr Leviev will pay about ten per cent of the debt from his private funds and be allowed to retain control of the company.

Part of the loans will be repaid in Africa-Israel shares and the rest of the repayments will be spread over the next ten years.

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Nurses find 'Hebrew' African village

By Robyn Rosen, October 29, 2009

Two Jewish nursing students had a pleasant surprise when they travelled to an impoverished town in Ghana only to discover a health clinic decorated with Stars of David.

Katie Susser and Sarah Mercer, both third year students at Birmingham University, have just returned from a two-month trip to Tamale, northern Ghana.

They volunteered at the Shekhinah Clinic, which was founded by Dr David Abdulai in 1989 and is run by local volunteers, helping patients with malaria, HIV and leprosy.

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Graduate joins Rwandan mercy mission for WJR

By Robyn Rosen, October 29, 2009

An Oxford graduate has taken part in a charity trip to Rwanda to help current or former street children reintegrate into family life and wider society.

Hannah Goldie, 22, spent a week in Kayonza, an eastern Rwandan province as part of a 10-person World Jewish Relief mission. She was chosen from close on 20 young applicants for a place largely financed by “a generous subsidy” from the Ansel Harris Memorial Fund.

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South Africa calls for expat Jews to return

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009

A call by new South African president Jacob Zuma for expatriate Jews to return home has received a lukewarm response in the UK.

President Zuma made his plea to an 800-strong audience at the national conference of the South African Board of Deputies in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

“This country has a massive skills shortage as a result of decades of neglect and deliberate under-investment,” he said. “This problem is exacerbated by the emigration of skilled people. We must reverse the trend.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman heads to Africa

September 2, 2009

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman leaves on a diplomatic mission to Africa today, as he looks to take Israeli foreign policy in a new direction.

The trip marks the first time that an Israeli foreign minister has visited sub-Saharan Africa in more than 20 years.

Mr Lieberman and a delegation of 20 Israeli businesspeople will visit Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana during the week-long trip.

Africa has a strong presence in international forums, such as the UN, where it tends to exhibit pro-Arab sentiment.

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Sole cause of Africa project

August 13, 2009

Project Chesed, the charitable arm of the United Synagogue, has launched a footwear collection initiative in support of Shoe Aid for Africa. Unwanted shoes, particularly in children’s sizes, will be distributed to needy communities.

Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue was first off the blocks with a shoe party.

In return for their practical donation, children received instruction in the art of shoe graffiti.

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Sea mystery as passenger claims ‘we beat pirates’

By James Martin, May 27, 2009

A London woman who was on a cruise ship attacked by Somali pirates said this week that “the heroic efforts of passengers in fending them off has been overlooked”.

Frances Pallas was a week into a three-week cruise, which ran from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the MSC Melody was attacked by pirates last month.

Mrs Pallas disputes the claim of the ship’s owners, MSC Cruises, that pirates were thwarted by Israeli security guards, who “acted immediately and successfully” in response to an attempted hijack.

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