UK news

Saving our lost Jewish communities in the UK

By Leon Symons, January 14, 2010

National communal organisations are facing a desperate plea to do more for small communities.

Ephraim Borowski, chairman of the Board of Deputies’ Regional Council, called on the Board, the Jewish Leadership Council and other bodies to provide more tangible support to the many small outposts of Jewish life around the country.

“The smaller the communities are, the more vulnerable they are likely to be,” he said.

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Muslim preachers who glorified suicide bombers are banned

By Marcus Dysch, January 14, 2010

Jewish community leaders have welcomed the banning of a radical Islamist group which has glorified suicide bombers and preached antisemitism.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson proscribed Islam4UK under anti-terror legislation and extended the banning order to the group’s use of other names, including Al-Muhajiroun.

The extremist group, led by Anjem Choudary, had last week announced and then retracted plans to march through Wootton Bassett, the Wiltshire town where crowds gather to honour British soldiers killed in Afghanistan as their coffins are repatriated.

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Muslim Council of Britain split over Holocaust Day boycott

By Martin Bright, January 14, 2010

The Muslim Council of Britain has refused to say if it will boycott Holocaust Memorial Day for the second year running.

The umbrella organisation attended the commemoration for the first time in 2008 after it voted to end a longstanding boycott following pressure from government. But the MCB did not attend last year in protest at Israel’s military intervention in Gaza.

However, MCB’s high-profile spokesman Inayat Bunglawala has broken with the organisation to say he will attend in his personal capacity.

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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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Analysis: Is this not persecution of the weak and defenceless?

By Rabbi Seth Farber, January 14, 2010

Some years ago, a woman who had completed an Israeli Orthodox conversion course finalised her conversion to Judaism on a Friday morning by immersing in a mikveh and accepting the commandments in front of a rabbinical court. Hours later, she boarded a plane for Turkey and by Saturday morning, she and her non-Jewish boyfriend were married in a civil ceremony in Istanbul.

On Sunday morning, the new couple approached the immigration desk at Ben Gurion airport seeking to make aliyah —she on the basis of her conversion, and he as a spouse of a Jew.

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New head of British-Israel Chamber of Commerce

By Candice Krieger, January 14, 2010

Danny Seal, the former director of Bnei Akiva, has been appointed the new chief executive of the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce. He joins the B-ICC from a healthcare software company, where he worked as the director of operations.

Mr Seal said: “I am very excited to have been selected to lead such a prestigious organisation and am looking forward to working closely with Michael Ziff and the rest of the B-ICC board in further developing UK/Israel business and trade.”

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Women ‘devastated’ by conversion annulment fears

By Robyn Rosen, January 14, 2010

Three converts have spoken about how the controversy is affecting them.

Mrs B converted in America and has a six-year-old daughter. “This throws up a lot of questions,” she said. “It’s awful to know that someone could rethink my conversion.

“What could it mean for my daughter? To feel that the rug could be pulled from beneath her at some point, I think it’s outrageous.

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Jerusalem rabbis to reopen Jewish status case

By James Martin, January 14, 2010

An Israeli whose Jewish status was put in question by the Jerusalem Beth Din is to have his case reheard after the Higher Rabbinical Court acknowledged a procedural error in the first hearing.

The case involves London-based actor Yossi Fackenheim, 30, the son of the noted Reform theologian Emil Fackenheim, who died in 2003. Because his mother was a convert, the two-year-old Yossi, like his siblings, underwent an Orthodox conversion in Canada.

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Israeli Rabbinate: we can annul conversions

By Leon Symons, January 14, 2010

An “explosive” document on conversions by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has argued that Orthodox conversions carried out in Israel can be annulled at any time.

The 122-page submission was presented to an Israeli High Court hearing brought by a women’s rights group trying to reinstate thousands of conversions that had been annulled in 2008.

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War crimes arrest law will change next week

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

New legislation to stop magistrates granting arrest warrants for visiting politicians and military figures accused of war crimes will be announced next week, the JC can reveal.

The outcry from Israel over a warrant issued for opposition leader Tzipi Livni last month led the government to make a commitment to ensure prominent Israelis will in future be able to travel to the UK without fear of arrest.

Lawyers representing Palestinians in Gaza successfully applied for a warrant last month over Ms Livni’s involvement in authorising Operation Cast Lead.

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