United Synagogue

Angry US rabbis divided over JFS

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2010

The fallout from the JFS court case continued this week with a split emerging among United Synagogue rabbis.

A statement from the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue (RCUS) which last week attacked non-Orthodox movements over the case has been denounced as “misguided” and “aggressive” by the council’s own vice-chairmen.

Writing in today’s JC, Rabbis Michael Harris and Naftali Brawer have instead called for “all denonimations” to work together in order to reverse the Supreme Court’s judgment through a change in the law.

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'Class act' wins claim over US

By Leon Symons, December 22, 2009

A former senior educator has won his claim for unfair dismissal against the United Synagogue.

Jeffrey Leader, former director of education of the US’s Agency for Jewish Education and an employee for more than 20 years, was one of six people made redundant there as part of a cost cutting exercise that saw 17 people shed from the US. He brought the case because he claimed the redundancy process was unfair and he was given insufficient time to consult about alternative employment.

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Michael Howard pays to restore Swansea cemetary

By Robyn Rosen, December 17, 2009

Michael Howard has helped to pay for the restoration of a vandalised Jewish cemetery in Swansea, where his father was buried.

The United Synagogue’s burial team was asked to restore Townhill Cemetery, which is now closed, by Mr Howard and the local Jewish community.

Mr Howard, the former Conservative leader, offered to pay for some of the team’s expenses and asked for his father, who was buried there in 1966, to be moved to Bushey cemetery to join his late mother.

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US taken to tribunal

By Leon Symons, October 15, 2009

The former director of education for the United Synagogue’s Agency for Jewish Education is taking the US to an employment tribunal.

Jeffrey Leader was one of a number of people made redundant at the beginning of the year in what the US dubbed a “reorganisation” of what had been regarded as its flagship education body.

The AJE had won plaudits from the highest echelons of government for its teacher-training programmes.

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US women get shorter

By Jay Grenby, October 8, 2009

Brevity now rules for the former Association of United Synagogue Women, which has changed its name to US Women.

“It’s easier to say and it’s what we are,” declared Kenton Synagogue’s Irene Leeman after an EGM at which she and Dalia Cramer of Finchley Synagogue were elected the organisation’s first co-chairs.

This joint post was permitted by a revised constitution approved at the meeting.

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Last orders, please

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2009

The United Synagogue is considering something to warm weather-beaten mourners — a coffee machine at Bushey cemetery. The Federation has already installed one at Rainham, but why doesn’the US go one better and put in a bar?

Last year a German rabbi allowed a man to be buried with a bottle of his favourite vodka. If the departed can take a tipple into the next world, why shouldn’t the living enjoy a l’chaim in theirs?

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School entry rules 'fiasco'

By Simon Rocker, September 18, 2009

New school entry rules based on religious practice were slammed as a “fiasco” this week by the chairman of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue, Rabbi Yitzchak Shochet.

He hit out as synagogues struggled with floods of inquiries from parents trying to ensure their children complied with the new admissions system.

Most Jewish schools have been forced to rewrite their rules after the Appeal Court ruled in June that they could no longer take children simply on the basis of whether their parents were Jewish.

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School goes outside the faith to fill

By Simon Rocker, September 17, 2009

Ilford Jewish Primary School is accepting pupils from other faiths because there have been insufficient Jewish children to fill places.

Headteacher Roz Levin said that for the second academic year, non-Jewish children had been admitted “due to the fact that we are not oversubscribed”.

Five of this year’s 31 entrants to the reception class are not Jewish. Their families understood “we are a Jewish school and we only teach Judaism”, the head explained.

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JFS admits child of non-Orthodox convert

By Simon Rocker, September 10, 2009

JFS has accepted the child of a non-Orthodox-converted mother as a first-year pupil, despite its previous rejection of such children because they are not considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbi.

The Orthodox school, based in Kenton, north London, refused to admit any U-turn or say whether the decision had been taken because of a Court of Appeal ruling earlier this summer declaring its entry policy to be unlawful.

Russell Kett, chairman of JFS governors, said: “The school does not comment on individual applicants or students.”

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Four shuls, one voice

By Jay Grenby, May 7, 2009

A combined Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut event at Pinner Synagogue was the first in what is hoped will be joint ventures between the four United Synagogue communities on the outer north-west London fringes.

The commemoration attracted over 300 members from the host community, Northwood, Ruislip and Watford. The programme featured the visiting rabbis and contributions from young community members. A proportion of profits will be donated to Magen David Adom.

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