Rabbis

Jerusalem prepares for Pop Idol clashes

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

Major clashes are expected next month in Jerusalem around the broadcast of the A Star is Born finale from the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

The final of Israel's equivalent to Pop Idol is scheduled for Saturday night and strictly Orthodox rabbis object to it for fear that the preparations for the broadcast will take place on Shabbat, and that the heavy traffic expected will block the road for those planning to get to the Western Wall for the first night of selichot (penitential prayers said before the High Holy Days).

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FBI arrest Orthodox 'fraudster'

By Paul Berger, August 19, 2010

An American property developer who allegedly defrauded British Jews out of millions of pounds has been arrested by the FBI.

Eliyahu Weinstein, 35, lost a civil case earlier this month against London property tycoon Berish Berger, who had been swindled out of £23 million.

At least two members of Stamford Hill's Jewish community continue to pursue multi-million pound lawsuits against Weinstein in the US, following property deals that went sour.

Last week, FBI agents arrested Weinstein, who lives in the Orthodox enclave of Lakewood, New Jersey.

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Pot and prayer: rabbi’s cannabis plan

By Jennifer Lipman, August 16, 2010

A rabbi and his wife are attempting to set up the first medical marijuana centre in Washington DC.

According to Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, decriminalising use of the drug “is an important religious issue.”

He and his wife Stephanie, a nurse, have applied for a licence to open the “zen-like but simple and classy” Takoma Wellness Centre in America’s capital.

And rather than a traditional marijuana leaf motif to identify their shop, the Kahns want to use the Middle Eastern hamsa symbol as the logo.

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Masorti's engaging new rabbi

By Jay Grenby, August 12, 2010

St Albans Masorti Synagogue's new spiritual leader has returned from America a less single-minded man. For just before his departure, Rabbi Rafael Kaiserblueth got engaged to Mariel Leonard of Washington DC.

Over the last few years, Rabbi Kaiserblueth has regularly visited the Hertfordshire community to lead festival and other special services. He also spent a three month period as a visiting scholar.

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Kidnappers ‘forced man to issue a get’

By Leon Symons, August 5, 2010

Strictly orthodox rabbis are fighting claims that a woman's marriage is invalid because her husband was forced to issue a get under duress.

Friends of her ex-husband have started a campaign claiming he gave it after he had been kidnapped.

But the Union of Hebrew Congregations dismissed the claims and insisted he had been paid nearly £16,000 to give it.

"This man abandoned his family and now wants to get revenge and stir up trouble," said a UOHC source.

Neither the man or the woman can be identified but he is an American living in New York and she lives in London.

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Son fights to move mother from Christian cemetery

By Marcus Dysch, July 29, 2010

A bereaved son has described his frustration after an unsuccessful three-year battle to have his mother's body moved from a Christian cemetery to a Jewish resting place.

Eugene Linder's late mother, Biba Skodnik, is buried in Finland. He has pleaded with the country's Prime Minister and President to allow him to reinter her in Switzerland, where his family now lives.

But despite the assistance of London-based Rabbi Aba Dunner of the Conference of European Rabbis, Mr Linder has failed to receive permission from the Finnish authorities to move her.

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Ban Jewish burka, say Israeli rabbis

By Nathan Jeffay, July 29, 2010

Israeli rabbis are set to ban the burka for a small group of radical Jewish women who have taken to wearing it.

Two years ago, it emerged that around 100 women in the city of Beit Shemesh had begun to cover their faces with a veil and wear numerous layers of clothing to obscure their body shape. When many rabbis criticised the trend, the women took no notice because they considered the rabbis too moderate.

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Pledge to fight EU shechita ban

By Robyn Rosen, July 22, 2010

The president of Shechita UK has urged the community to lobby MPs to prevent new EU regulations requiring kosher meat to be labelled "meat from slaughter without stunning".

Last month the European Parliament voted in favour of the amendment to the provision of food information to consumers, just two weeks after New Zealand banned kosher slaughter.

Henry Grunwald QC urged the Board of Deputies on Sunday to contact their MPs before the bill comes back for discussion in September.

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Singing rabbis 'banned'

By Nathan Jeffay, July 22, 2010

Israel's chief rabbinate is threatening to withdraw licences to perform marriages from rabbis who sing under the chuppah.

Wedding ceremonies in Israel tend to be generic, performed by a rabbi allocated by the rabbinate. But in the last decade, Israeli couples have begun turning to charismatic rabbis, who liven up ceremonies by singing parts of it.

"It's like a performance, like a theatre," said Ana Prashizky, a Bar Ilan University sociologist who has studied the trend.

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Ultimately, converts will be the losers

By Seth Farber, July 22, 2010

Whatever happens in the end to the conversion law, the real losers are the potential converts. Neither the bill - which was proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu in an effort to ease the road for converts in Israel - or the virulent response of the North American Jewish community, which tried to kill the bill, was going to significantly improve the chaos that has characterised conversion in Israel for the past decade.

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