UK news

Gay couples may be able to wed in synagogue

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

Gay couples may soon be able to marry legally in both Reform and Liberal synagogues under proposed changes to marriage laws.

Same-sex couples are expected to be given the right to hold legal civil
partnership ceremonies in places of worship.

The move would enable non-Orthodox communities to hold a wedding under a chuppah, and immediately follow it with a civil ceremony in a shul.

Liberal Judaism, Quakers and gay rights groups, led the pressure on the government to offer greater equality.

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The love expert's Valentine message

By Jennifer Lipman, February 17, 2011

Israel's foremost authority on passion provoked a heated Valentine's Eve debate this week when he told a London crowd that monogamy was old-fashioned and highlighted the similarities between the lyrics of love songs and the comments of murderers.

Professor Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, president of Haifa University and one of the world's only academic experts in emotions, said that as with Communism, there were many victims of "romantic ideology".

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LSE attacked for scrapping banker's talk

By Robyn Rosen, February 17, 2011

The London School of Economics has been accused of hypocrisy after it cancelled a lecture by a controversial German banker following threats from anti-fascist demonstrators.

Thilo Sarrazin, who has previously referred to the existence of a "Jewish gene", was due to speak in a debate organised by the university's German Society on Monday.

Just before the event was due to start, the university's management cancelled it, though it later took place off campus at a nearby hotel.

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Gilad Shalit supporters get message out nationally

February 17, 2011

A campaign aimed at raising awareness of Gilad Shalit's plight has been launched around the country.

Advertising vans, emblazoned with Sergeant Shalit's photograph and story, will drive around prominent locations in London and Manchester for the next fortnight.

The Israeli Embassy, working with 10 Jewish community organisations, hopes that the initiative will inform the British public about the Israeli soldier's treatment at the hands of Hamas.

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The day of the wunderrebbe

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 17, 2011

At a private house in Whitefield, north Manchester, on Sunday, people were spilling out of the front door, crowding onto the path, and queuing, in their hundreds, for more than four hours.

The attraction? A sweet-faced, bearded rabbi, Moshe Taub, who has electrified communities up and down the country.

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Ron Prosor caught in UN crossfire fight

February 17, 2011

The identity of Israel's next ambassador to the United Kingdom has become the latest bone of contention in the growing political feud between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

The current ambassador, Ron Prosor, is poised to be appointed in the next few weeks as Israel's new ambassador to the United Nations.

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Islamists get a key role in parliament

By Martin Bright and Simon Rocker, February 17, 2011

Jewish organisations and politicians have expressed outrage at the decision by the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia to retain the controversial Islamist organisation iEngage as its secretariat.

Described by the CST as having "a troubling attitude to antisemitism", concerns about its Islamist politics had earlier led to the resignation of the group's Conservative chair Kris Hopkins MP, and one of its vice-chairs, Jewish Labour peer Greville Janner.

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British Reform leader Mike Grabiner picked for international role

By Jennifer Lipman, February 16, 2011

British Jew has been named as the new chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Mike Grabiner, the former chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism will replace current chairman, Californian Steven Bauman, at the umbrella organisation. The WUPJ serves communities in more than 45 countries around the world.

Mr Grabiner, a member of Finchley Reform Synagogue, is the chair of governors for the recently opened cross-communal secondary school JcoSS.

A Cambridge University graduate, he grew up in an Orthodox household but moved to Reform Judaism as an adult.

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Ladbrokes founder Cyril Stein dies

By Marcus Dysch, February 16, 2011

Philanthropist Cyril Stein, the former chairman of the Ladbrokes betting company, has died.

Mr Stein was a key fundraiser and supporter of the JNF and was UJIA honorary vice-president.

He was in his early 80s and died in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Mr Stein founded the Ladbroke betting business and floated it on the London Stock Exchange in 1967. At the time it was worth £1 million.

When he left the company in 1994 it was valued at around £2 billion. His personal wealth was estimated at £60m in 2008.

Mr Stein was chair of the JNF’s £10m project to redevelop the Negev.

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EDL partners with far-right US Jewish group

By Jessica Elgot, February 16, 2011

The head of the EDL’s Jewish division Roberta Moore has announced a partnership with far-right American group the Jewish Task Force on the EDL Facebook page.

The JTF leader Victor Vancier has also posted a podcast where he said: “We were contacted by the English Defence League last few weeks and we have agreed we want to work together on joint projects. They are a major organisation, with mass media coverage.

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