UK news

Promises, promises: which ones will be kept?

January 6, 2011

If 2010 was the year of promises, 2011 has to be the year of action. In the run-up to the election, the parties courted Britain's ethnic and religious communities in the chase for their votes.

Will the coalition come good on pledges made to the Jewish community by the Conservative Party? And will the new Labour leader hold them to account if they fail to do so? Let's look at the issues.

Universal jurisdiction


Pre-nup law won't affect the get

By Simon Rocker, January 6, 2011

The London Beth Din believes that new moves to explore whether pre-nuptial agreements (PNAs) should be legally binding are unlikely to have any impact on Jewish religious divorces.

A consultation paper on the use of PNAs is to be launched next Monday by the Law Commission.

Voluntary PNAs were introduced for marrying couples by the Office of the Chief Rabbi 15 years ago as a measure to prevent the incidence of agunot - women unable to remarry in Orthodox synagogues should their husband deny them a get (religious divorce).


Channel 4 attacked over 'biased' Mid-East film

By Robyn Rosen, January 6, 2011

Channel 4 has been criticised for featuring a series of "one-sided" and "distorted" television programmes about Jewish and Muslim relations.

Last week, seven 90-second films entitled Can Jews and Muslims ever find peace? aired as part of the 4Thought series. It is broadcast every day on Channel 4 in the evening and is also covered on the Channel 4's website.

The episodes included clips from Christian student and "friend of Israel" Sam Hailes, Muslim musician Kareem Dennis, and Roberta Moore, head of the English Defence League's Jewish division.


Beth Din will carry on despite debt

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 6, 2011

Manchester Beth Din has set up new limited companies to continue its communal services after financial problems forced its charity into liquidation.

Last week creditors received letters from accountants on behalf of the Beth Din's charitable organisation, Manchester Kashrut, announcing its president had put it into voluntary liquidation. The 118-year-old charity is responsible for supervising several key kosher meat and other major companies in the North West, as well as Jewish marriages, divorces and conversions.


Ozzy Osbourne's father-in-law added to Dictionary of National Biography

By Jennifer Lipman, January 6, 2011

Humorist Alan Coren and the music impresario father of Sharon Osbourne are among the Jewish names who have been added to Britain’s most prestigious biographical collection.

A total of 216 famous faces who died in 2007 have been added to the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB).


War on Want pushes for more sanctions

By Jessica Elgot, December 31, 2010

War On Want's newest paper on boycotts and sanctions against Israel has been described as reaching "rock bottom" by community leaders.

The report, "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" from the anti-poverty charity calls for the Palestinian right of return to Israel. This was called "antisemitic" by the chairman of Zionist Federation Harvey Rose who said it would mean the end of a Jewish homeland.


Police crack down on lead theft

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 31, 2010

The unsolved theft of thousands of pounds worth of roofing from a Liverpool synagogue has prompted a police crackdown. Large amounts of lead were ripped from the Grade-I listed Princes Road Synagogue in August. The theft was just months after extensive repairs to the synagogue roof following a £71,000 English Heritage grant.

Police Inspector Deborah Mackay said investigations were continuing after failing to charge a 39-year-old man arrested last month for the theft.


EDL-speech rabbi calls for Chief TV debate

By Jessica Elgot, December 31, 2010

The rabbi who spoke at an English Defence League rally two months ago has apparently challenged Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks to a televised BBC debate on "Is Islam a religion of peace?"

Californian Nachum Shifren was the speaker at the far-right group's October rally outside the Israeli Embassy.

He called Muslims "dogs" and criticised British community leaders and rabbis for speaking out against him, saying: "To all my Jewish brothers who have called me a Nazi… I say to them they don't have the guts to stand up here and take care of business."


Thieves, leftists, and ramblers in study

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 31, 2010

Oddball Jews from Manchester are to be part of a £50,000 history study designed to shed light on the way the Jewish community defines itself.

The three-year project, conducted jointly with Manchester University's Centre for Jewish Studies and the Manchester Jewish Museum, has begun investigating Jewish criminals and political dissidents among mainstream historic figures.

The project won a funding grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is designed to discover how mainstream Jewish society defined itself by rejecting non-conformists.


Golfers to get their fair share

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 31, 2010

The UK's oldest Jewish golf club is pulling back shares from members in order to protect Jewish membership.

Last week Moor Allerton Golf Club in Leeds, a private club opened in 1923, announced in an advertisement that shares from 420 shareholders would be transferred to a special trust, because they were unable to contact them.

But among the shareholders named were a number of prominent Jewish figures, some of whom were widely known to have died.