Police swoop on Shabbat beach dinner

By Marcus Dysch, September 18, 2009

A bottle of kiddush wine was confiscated and poured away by police who pounced on a group of messianic Jews enjoying Shabbat dinner on a beach.

Five members of the Messiach Ben Yisrael community had been using the Palwin No 4 to make kiddush on Bournemouth beach.

The Basingstoke-based group had begun a post-kiddush discussion about the hymn Adon Olam when two police officers approached them for breaking “no alcohol” regulations.

The congregation’s Ross Cooley said: “The beach was lovely and not too crowded. The tide was out and the light was just good enough to still be able to read from my siddur.

“Two police officers had been talking to some girls by the pier and then turned their attention to us.

“The female officer came over to us and we were talking and then she spotted the kiddush wine. She announced she had to pour it away. She said we could not have alcohol on the beach.”

He said the incident had left him “gutted” and the group had been made to “feel like criminals”.

Mr Cooley, a security guard, said Messiach Ben Yisrael attracts Jews and Christians “who are interested in a Hebrew approach to worship”.

A Dorset Police spokesman said Bournemouth town centre and the beach have a designated “no drinking” policy.

He added: “We are happy to facilitate special events if we are given prior notice. We have good links with the Jewish community and this matter has not been brought to our attention. Of course we would welcome a meaningful conversation with those involved.”

Mr Cooley also voiced his concern that Messianic groups are being increasingly targeted for antisemitic and anti-Israel abuse.

In March, graffiti was daubed on a centre used by a messianic community in Donaghadee, County Down, in response to Israel’s actions during the Gaza conflict. “There seems to be a growing unpleasantness,” said Mr Cooley.

Last updated: 1:21pm, September 18 2009