IDF's first Arab officer: 'It's my duty'

By Jennifer Lipman, November 4, 2010

A 26-year-old who has become the first Israeli Arab officer in the IDF has called for more members of his community to fight for the country.

Lieutenant Hisham Abu Rayya has faced outrage in his community and accusations that he is a traitor for taking on the role.

But he told The Times that serving in the Israeli army, and even protecting a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, was “my duty to my country”.

Lieutenant Abu Raaya rubbished claims that the reason Arab teenagers opt not to join the Israeli army is down to discrimination.


A bite at interfaith follows kosher food

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 4, 2010

A kiddush for 100 Christians at a Leeds synagogue has spawned a new interfaith initiative to create a Jewish heritage day out for schoolchildren and faith groups.

Three weeks ago Alwoodley's Etz Chaim Synagogue hosted 100 members of the neighbouring St John the Evangelist Church which was looking for a large reception venue after a major ceremony. The food had to be kosher so the synagogue laid on a kosher Christian kiddush.


Blair to launch Haifa human rights celebration

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2010

Tony Blair is to open an annual human rights event in Haifa this Chanucah.

The former UK prime minister will virtually launch the Leo Baeck Education Centre’s celebration of International Human Rights Day by lighting a candle on the first night of the festival.

Mr Blair will be opening the event on behalf of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A special prayer has also been composed by rabbis from the Centre as a symbol of “commitment, as human beings, as Jews and so importantly for us at this time, as Israelis, to the values of Human Rights”.


Wiesel: build interfaith centre at Ground Zero

By Jennifer Lipman, October 7, 2010

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel has called for the establishment of an interfaith centre near the site of the September 11 terror attacks rather than the controversial “Ground Zero mosque.”


A new chapter in interfaith?

By Ed Kessler, September 21, 2010

The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, proclaimed a "friendship across faiths" as he introduced Pope Benedict XVI to a select group of 100 representatives of Britain's religious communities in London.

It was the Vatican's Nostra Aetate declaration of 1965 that "brought about the single greatest transformation in interfaith relations in recent history," the Chief Rabbi said, "and we recognise your visit today as a new chapter in that story and a vital one".


Faith trip banned from religious visit

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 17, 2010

An interfaith tour group of 60 people, including a vicar and two uniformed policemen ,were barred from a Manchester synagogue over security concerns.

Members of the group were hoping to get a rare glimpse of Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton Synagogue's listed building during a heritage open day on Sunday. The annual multifaith Cheetham Festival saw the synagogue open its doors on Sunday morning together with local churches, mosques and the Manchester Jewish Museum.

But the synagogue said security could not be arranged at short notice for the group's afternoon visit.


Interfaith job for BBC faith boss

August 26, 2010

The former head of religion and ethics at the BBC, Michael Wakelin, has joined the Council of Christians and Jews, Britain's oldest interfaith organisation, as its new director of programmes.

Mr Wakelin spent four years as head of the BBC's religious broadcasting, standing down from his post this year.

The CCJ's chief executive, David Gifford, said: "Michael brings a wealth of insight and experience at a time of development and change in CCJ. His energy and creativity will be an asset to the team."


Hall of Fame: US Muslim leaders

August 18, 2010

"We have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanisation of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity.

“With the disturbing rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.”


Bradford makes most of Yorkshire's oldest shul

By Jessica Elgot, August 13, 2010

Bradford Reform can boast an architecturally extravagant synagogue, but there is nothing outlandish about its expenditure.

Saved from closure by a £5,000 heritage grant last year, the small community leads a hand-to-mouth existence, reliant on the support of outside donors.

"Every day there are tiny little miracles," says fundraising manager Rachel Yosef. "We have people who come to us out of the blue with donations. But it's never easy. This place has been on the point of shutting down since it was built."


Deputies at mosque exhibition

By Simon Rocker, August 12, 2010

A Board of Deputies delegation toured an exhibition on Islam's relations with other faiths at the Islamic Cultural Centre at the Regents Park Mosque in London.

Shahid Munir, director of research for Exhibition Islam, reported "a lot of enthusiasm from the Jewish community" for the display.

A particular highlight, he said, was a rare showing "of Torah scrolls which were written across the Islamic world where sofers [scribes] wrote in many exquisite styles".

Rabbis were also taken around the exhibition by Mehri Niknam, founder of interfaith charity the Joseph Foundation.