German shul in barn restored

By Toby Axelrod, February 3, 2011

What would you do if you discovered that a dilapidated barn in a nearby village is actually a 186-year-old shul?

Brigitta Stammer, from Gottingen in Lower Saxony, decided, as many others might, to help restore the building to its original purpose.

But this was no ordinary restoration. In order to complete the rebirth of the half-timbered synagogue, Ms Stammer took part in a project to move it, piece by piece, from its location in Bodenfelde to Gottingen, where she lives. And, what's more, Ms Stammer is not even Jewish.


Coming home to Bowdon

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 28, 2011

Rabbi Dovid Lewis will be returning home to fill South Manchester Synagogue's ministerial vacancy.

Manchester-born Rabbi Lewis, 32, currently at Newcastle's United Hebrew Congregation, is expected to transfer to the Bowdon community in June. He succeeds Rabbi Yitzchok Rubin, who vacated the post after 25 years to launch a strictly Orthodox private high school in north Manchester.

Rabbi Lewis holds a BA in Jewish studies from SOAS and an MA in theological research from Durham University. He obtained semichah in Israel in 1999.


Israeli police arrest scroll gang rabbi

January 13, 2011

Police hope to have put a brake on the rising number of Torah scroll thefts from synagogues around Israel after arresting two gangs last week.

In the largest of the swoops, police uncovered an unusual example of Arab-Jewish co-operation when they charged three Arabs in Lod and a prominent rabbi from the strictly-Orthodox town of Elad, near Petach Tikvah, with the theft of 70 Torah scrolls.


Share dealers reap rewards

By Jay Grenby, January 13, 2011

In a ground-breaking home-share, Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue will be moving into the nearby Middlesex New Reform premises in Bessborough Road.

Both communities are delighted with the arrangement, which will see the Harrow community becoming tenants of Middlesex New, one of the largest synagogues in the Reform movement. The congregations will retain their separate identities.

The initial contract is for a minimum two-year period with an option to renew, with the costs of the building being shared.


Woodside Park is looking to join the eruv club

By Jay Grenby, December 29, 2010

Woodside Park Synagogue is putting the finishing touches to its plans for an eruv, which it intends to submit to Barnet Council in early spring.

The move follows community and general public consultation meetings. If approved, the eruv will cover four square miles, taking in Whetstone, Oakleigh Park and Totteridge, as well parts of Finchley.

It will abut the existing North-West London eruv, as well as the eruvim planned by the Barnet and Mill Hill communities, creating a large area enabling the Shabbat-observant to push prams or wheelchairs and carry certain items.


Synagogues face VAT slap for listed buildings

By Leon Symons, October 14, 2010

Synagogue buildings given heritage status face increased costs that could run into thousands of pounds after the government decided to cut a grant that refunded VAT.

The cut, which will start in January, is part of the government's overall drive to tackle the economic deficit.

Currently synagogues, along with all other listed places of worship, can claim a grant equal to the VAT paid on certain specified works, including architects' professional fees. Now they cannot claim for those fees as well as work on items such as clocks, pews, bells and organs.


Hendon shul's new building project

By Robyn Rosen, October 7, 2010

Hendon Synagogue has begun its new building project with an official ground breaking ceremony.

More than 200 people, including the mayor of Barnet, Dayan Gelly, Dayan Abraham and Stephen Pack, vice-president of the United Synagogue, attended the event at the Raleigh Close synagogue on Sunday.

The £600,000 project includes a new bet midrash, administrative and washroom facilities and extended and updated function hall.


Widow 'held to ransom' in burial fees row

By Cathy Forman, August 13, 2010

A 79-year-old widow claims she is not being allowed to erect a headstone for her husband for refusing to pay an additional burial fee which is at the heart of a long-running dispute between Birmingham's two Orthodox synagogues.


Synagogues' appeal on cemetery space

By Robyn Rosen, July 1, 2010

Four synagogue groups appealing to overturn a decision against extending a north London Jewish cemetery have urged an inquiry to consider the "historical circumstances" of the community.

Liberal Judaism, West London Synagogue, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation and Belsize Square Synagogue are making their case over Edgwarebury Lane cemetery to a four-day Planning Inspectorate hearing at Hendon Town Hall.