UK news

Guardian editor's daughter in Melanie Phillips row

November 13, 2009

The daughter of the editor of the Guardian, BellaM — Isabella Mackie — has been identified as the poster of a controversial comment on a website she was moderating.

According to the website, CiF Watch — set up specifically to monitor incidents of anti-Israel bias on the Guardian's Comment is Free site — BellaM intervened in a series of posts that followed an article by the Muslim writer Ed Husain, attacking the columnist Melanie Phillips.


Grandmother arrested for 'selling tortoises illegally'

By Robyn Rosen, November 12, 2009

A Jewish grandmother has been arrested for allegedly selling tortoises illegally from her pet guest house in Essex.

Tracy Cooper, 43, was shocked when she woke one morning last month to discover six police officers, three police jeeps and a warrant for her arrest.

She runs a pet boarding house in Epping which currently houses 23 tortoises, 14 parrots, 10 canaries, nine rabbits, eight cats and two ferrets.

But she has been accused of selling tortoises without the required government documentation.


Valmadonna's collection of Hebrew books struggles to find home

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2009

The compiler of the world’s finest private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts still hopes to find a new home for them, preferably in the UK.

Since February, the 13,000 volumes in Jack Lunzer’s Valmadonna Trust Library have been with Sotheby’s in New York, awaiting a buyer.

But now the 85-year-old bibliophile believes that the proposed new Jewish Community Centre in North-West London being built by Dame Vivien Duffield would make an ideal place to rehouse them.

“It would be wonderful if the library could stay in England”, said Mr Lunzer, who lives in Hampstead.


BBC refuses Rosenthal's The Barmitzvah Boy release

By Robyn Rosen, November 12, 2009

Actress Maureen Lipman has said that the BBC will not produce DVDs of work by her late husband, playwright Jack Rosenthal, despite numerous requests and high demand.

Ms Lipman, 63, made the comments while speaking to a packed audience attending the screening of Mr Rosenthal’s 1976 television play, The Barmitzvah Boy, screened to mark the UK Jewish Film Festival’s barmitzvah year.

She said later that she receives dozens of letters from fans asking where they can find DVDs of his films and plays, and she has even leant out her own personal copies.


Swastikas go on sale in Hull clothes shop

By Marcus Dysch, November 12, 2009

A military memorabilia shop which sells swastikas and replica Nazi items has been criticised by the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.

Combat Clothing Company offers shoppers the chance to buy Nazi flags, swastika armbands and Iron Cross medals.

Lapel badges featuring a swastika are also on sale alongside British wartime medals at the store in Hull, east Yorkshire.


Trustee offers £500k to save Bevis Marks

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2009

An offer of £500,000 has reportedly been made to the financially troubled Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London, amid continuing disquiet over its future.

David Dangoor, a trustee of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, which owns the synagogue, Britain’s oldest, is said to have offered £100,000 a year over five years to the community, which is still smarting over the departure last month of its rabbi, Nathan Asmoucha.


The Slovakian school frozen in time

November 12, 2009

A heartbreaking evocation of the day time stood still in Slovakia is now on show in Cambridge.

Last Folio is a set of portraits of decaying books, notebooks and essays, discovered in an abandoned Jewish school in eastern Slovakia by photographer Yuri Dojc.

He found these poignant symbols by chance. One dark day in 1943, all those attending the school were taken away to the concentration camps.

The school books are still there, essay notebooks with corrections, school reports, and remarkably enough a book once owned by Yuri’s grandfather Jakub.


Zaka rescues Charedi Londoner's body in Jordan

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2009

The body of a north London Charedi man who died suddenly while on business in Jordan was buried in Israel after the Jordanian authorities were persuaded not to carry out an autopsy.

The man, whose family asked for him not to be identified, was in his early 70s from Stamford Hill and believed to be of Sephardi background.


Chief Rabbi attacks fundamentalism

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2009

The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has called for an “intellectually open, humble and tolerant religiosity” as a bulwark against fundamentalism.

In a keynote lecture to the religious think-tank Theos in London last week, he said: “Religion is going to grow in strength in the 21st century and a very great deal will depend on what kind of religion it is.

“At the moment, the fastest growing religions in the world are those who take an adversarial stance towards society, religions that challenge liberal democratic freedoms, and that is bad news.”


Buycott combats Morrisons and Waitrose Israel boycott

By Marcus Dysch, November 12, 2009

Shoppers across the country have been buying as many Israeli products as possible this week to thwart an anti-Israel boycott of two major supermarket chains.

The “buycott” initiative was drawn up by the Board of Deputies and the Fair Play Campaign Group in response to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s action against Waitrose and Morrisons.

Pro-Israel groups hailed the community’s response, with a number of stores selling out of almost their entire stocks of kosher products, including wine, fruit and herbs.