UK news

First woman chief executive for Reform Jews

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

The Movement for Reform Judaism will become the first British synagogue body to be professionally led by a female rabbi after Rabbi Tony Bayfield announced plans to retire as head in 15 months.

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand, 42, who joined as executive director in 2007, will move to the post of chief executive in June 2011, according to proposals presented to the Reform Council on Sunday.

Rabbi Bayfield, who retires a month before his 65th birthday after 37 years' service to the movement, will become Reform's honorary president.

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Tel Aviv research slams fornightly bin collection plan

March 25, 2010

A UK inventor has commissioned new research from Tel Aviv University which shows that fortnightly collections of rubbish, rather than weekly, will dramatically increase dangerous levels of potentially lethal bacteria.

Daniel Woolman is the inventor of Binifresh, an automatic hygiene and odour control device which fits into bins. He decided to act after the Audit Commission gave councils the go-ahead to introduce fortnightly bin collections as a way of saving money.

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Anne Frank exhibition 'too expensive' says council

By Marcus Dysch, March 25, 2010

The proposed hosting of an Anne Frank exhibition has sparked a war of words between relatives of Holocaust survivors and anti-Israel campaigners.

Councillors in Aberystwyth rejected the possibility of accommodating a month-long exhibition, following a request from the Anne Frank Trust.

One council member questioned the "pertinence" of hosting the project which he felt was "not appropriate".

But the council confirmed this week that it had turned down the request for cost alone. The Trust charges at least £16,000 to cover transport, setting up and insurance of the exhibits.

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Reform rabbi: Jews should think of Palestine during Seder

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

The head of BBC's religion and ethics asked whether Jews think of Palestinian suffering at Pesach during a demonstration Seder last week.

Aaqil Ahmed was among a select group of journalists who attended the event organised by the Reform movement.

According to The Tablet, the Catholic magazine, guests were discussing "plagues of the modern world" when Mr Ahmed asked: "Not speaking personally, but journalistically, I would ask, do people remember the plight of those people today who suffer oppression at the hands of the Israelis?"

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Ken Livingstone: Board of Deputies lost me election

By Marcus Dysch, March 25, 2010

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone claims the Board of Deputies carried out "a hatchet job" to force him from power.

He believes the organisation collaborated with the Evening Standard newspaper ahead of the 2008 election campaign in order to "get rid" of him.

Mr Livingstone made the comments during an interview on JNET Radio on Sunday.

When asked what he believes the Jewish community's perception of him is, Mr Livingstone immediately replied: "It was a real hatchet job by the Board of Deputies and the Evening Standard who had a common interest in getting rid of me.

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Community farms proposed for Jews

By Keren David, March 25, 2010

Community farms, dining and hiking clubs, ways of bringing Jewish neighbours together, a Jewish archive - just some of the notions that came out of a day of brainstorming new ideas for the Jewish community.

The NuMa event, held in King's Cross, London on Sunday, was, according to organiser Kevin Sefton, "the opposite of Dragons' Den. There, all the attention is on the dragons who judge the ideas. This was all about creating and developing ideas."

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Jewish charities publish social action manifesto

By Martin Bright, March 25, 2010

A group of prominent Jewish charities committed to social justice and climate change has published a joint manifesto for the forthcoming election.

The Jewish Social Action Forum document urges whichever party wins the election to act on poverty, global conflict and refugee issues as well as the environment.

The manifesto begins with a strong commitment to green issues. "The Jewish religion strongly believes in the notion of stewardship - that the world does not belong to us but that it is our responsibility to protect it for future generations."

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Liberal Judaism criticised for boycotter talk

March 25, 2010

The Board of Deputies this week criticised Liberal Judaism for having allowed a meeting at its headquarters featuring a supporter of the boycott against Israel.

Jeff Halper, the director of the Israel Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), spoke at a meeting organised by Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) at the Montagu Centre, Liberal Judaism's central London HQ, on Sunday.

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MPs attack Israel over Jerusalem

By Robyn Rosen, March 25, 2010

MPs attacked Israeli settlement policy during an emergency meeting held by Palestinian groups in Parliament.

Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, a veteran foe of Israel, told the meeting, held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al Aqsa: "The Jews running Israel are the most stupid Jews because they do not see the population equation will mean that unless there is a settlement granting Palestinians their own state, Palestinians will wait it out.

"When they outnumber the Israelis there will... be a one-state solution and that will not be Israel."

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British leaders at Aipac

By Marcus Dysch, March 25, 2010

A delegation of Britain's Jewish community leaders travelled to the United States this week to take part in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) convention.

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark, Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman and Bicom chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons led the British group.

Other representatives from the JLC, the Board, the Community Security Trust and Union of Jewish Students joined the trip.

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