UK news

Shul 'lifeline' for women marrying out

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 15, 2010

Affiliates of the Manchester Council of Synagogues are to review the membership policies of synagogues which bar those who have married out.

The policies are designed to discourage intermarriage but, in light of the Supreme Court's JFS ruling, the bar could now stop some Jewish children getting into Manchester Jewish schools. This is because families have to have synagogue membership, rather than show attendance to satisfy the religious practice-based admissions criteria.

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Beth Din stalls organ donation drive

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

The founder of a campaign to encourage Orthodox Jews to carry organ donor cards has voiced frustration at the time taken by the Chief Rabbi to issue new guidelines on the subject.

Lord Sacks's office said its views on organ donation would be available before Rosh Hashanah.

But Robert Berman, who runs the Halachic Organ Donor Society (Hods), said he had been led to believe that the policy was due out last August.

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Anger over Gaza flotilla forum

By Marcus Dysch, July 15, 2010

An interfaith forum which will debate the Gaza flotilla incident and assess its impact on religious groups has sparked an angry response from a Jewish community.

The Building the Bridge (BtB ) initiative in Bristol will assess the flotilla's impact and use discussion groups for people to "share their views and experiences".

The initiative works with the government's Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and is funded by Bristol City Council.

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UK accused of hypocrisy over spy case

By Robyn Rosen, July 15, 2010

The British government has been accused of "double standards" following its reaction to allegations that Russian spies used forged British and Irish passports.

During the trial of 10 Russians who admitted to being spies last month, US Department of Justice papers claimed that one of them, Tracey Foley, "travelled on a fraudulent British passport prepared for her by the SVR [Russia's foreign intelligence agency]".

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are looking into the links with Britain and are in contact with the US authorities".

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I was 17 and surviving in the wild, but I'd fled humanity at its worst

By Naftali Schiff, July 15, 2010

It was not just any trip to Poland's concentration camps. One of the most powerful visits ever made to Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz took place last week, in the run-up to Tisha b'Av.

The visit brought together three survivors: 86-year-old Eddie Weinstein, the only able-bodied survivor to have escaped the Treblinka death camp still alive today; Thomas (Toivi) Blatt, 83, the only survivor of Sobibor able to give first-hand testimony today; and Eva Neuman, 82, from Manchester.

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Conflict of interest is not an issue here

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

Most British Jews feel no conflict between their ties to Israel and their British citizenship.

Two thirds, 66 per cent, said they had experienced no conflict of loyalty, while 28 per cent did (though only seven per cent felt this strongly).

However, 63 per cent felt that they were held responsible for Israel's actions by non-Jews.

Those living in densely-populated Jewish areas in London felt more comfortable than those living in other parts of the country, including the north of England and Scotland.

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Israel attitudes survey: There is much that divides us

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

Against the broad swathe of general support for Israel, British Jews diverge often sharply over specific policies.

Those who call themselves Zionist "are not always firm supporters of Israeli government policy", the report says. "It is clear…that one cannot assume that all of those labelling themselves Zionist are hawkish."

Whereas 50 per cent of Jews currently believe that Israeli control of the West Bank is vital for its security, 40 per cent do not.

While 55 per cent agree that Israel is an "occupying power" in the West Bank, 36 per cent dissent from that view.

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Israel attitudes survey: Most are happy to be Zionists

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

British Jews display a "great attachment" to Israel, with a mere five per cent believing it irrelevant to their Jewish identity, according to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) report published this week.

The strong place that Israel retains in Anglo-Jewish hearts is evident from the fact that 29 per cent say it is central to their identity; 53 per cent, that it is "important but not central"; and 13 per cent that it plays "a small part".

An overwhelming majority, 95 per cent, have visited Israel at least once, compared to 78 per cent who has done so in 1995.

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Curious case of demonstrators who wanted invisibility

By Lucy Morris, July 15, 2010

It was a demonstration with a curious ambition: to be invisible.

On Tuesday, nearly 500 anti-Zionist strictly Orthodox Jews staged a mass protest outside the Israeli Embassy, complete with loudspeakers and a sea of banners. The "True Torah Jews" had sent two long press releases and phoned the JC to alert us of their intention to demonstrate against plans to build on an ancient burial ground in Israel.

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UK Jewish bond with Israel is strong as ever

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

The vast majority of British Jews remain committed to the state of Israel while divided over its policies on peace and security, according to what is claimed to be the most definitive survey on the subject.

Ninety per cent regard Israel as the "ancestral homeland" of the Jewish people, 87 per cent believe Jews have a "special responsibility" to ensure its survival, and 72 per cent consider themselves Zionists.

But differences become apparent on more detailed political questions: 52 per cent think the Israeli government should negotiate with Hamas, compared with 39 per cent against.

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