UK news

Sher wears his art on his sleeve at 60

By Julia Weiner, June 18, 2009

A massive painting depicting 130 people who have influenced the life of Sir Antony Sher is the centrepiece of an exhibition of the actor’s work at the National Theatre to mark his 60th birthday.

The painting, The Audience, fulfils a long-held ambition. “I had been wanting to paint it for years but my studio in London is far too small.

But last year Greg Doran [his partner and RSC chief associate director] had a season in Stratford directing David Tennant in Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

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MP challenges insurers

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

Diane Abbott has written to the chief executives of two major medical insurers to demand an end to a postcode boycott of Jews.

The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington noted that “thousands of members of the Stamford Hill Jewish community were being discriminated against” by HSA and the Western Provident Association.

Ms Abbott — who also contacted the Financial Services Authority — wrote after being informed by a constituent, Rabbi Avraham Pinter, that WPA was not offering quotes on cash plans to people in the E5, N15, N16 and NW11 postcodes.

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Shul’s plans for pub

By Marcus Dysch, June 18, 2009

Moves to convert a Stamford Hill pub into a synagogue have advanced after the Jewish group which owns the building submitted a planning application.

The Swan closed earlier this year after being bought for around £1 million by members of the strictly Orthodox Bobov sect.

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Light relief in fight on Shabbat sensors

By Simon Rocker, June 18, 2009

An Orthodox couple have made a claim for religious discrimination over sensor-operated lights outside their flat which they say stops them leaving it on Shabbat.

Gordon Coleman, the former chief executive of the Federation of Synagogues, and his wife Dena, the headteacher of Yavneh College in Hertfordshire, are suing the Embassy Court Residential Management Company in Bournemouth County Court.

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Chef is All Write

June 18, 2009

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks described his new book, Future Tense, as “the most important I have written” at a reception in London on Tuesday to mark its publication. Based on a lecture series given last year which was extracted in the JC, the book outlines his vision for Jews, Judaism and Israel.

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Divided on simcha

June 18, 2009

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has slated his successor Boris Johnson over the cancellation of the Jewish culture celebration Simcha on the Square because of insufficient funding from the Greater London Authority. Mr Livingstone accused the Tory administration of “a narrow-minded approach”.

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Beating boycott

June 18, 2009

National Theatre chief Nicholas Hytner is among top arts figures who have welcomed the participation of Israeli director Tali Shalom Ezer in the Edinburgh Film Festival in the wake of opposition instigated by Ken Loach. In a letter to The Times, they wrote: “Cultural boycotts make loud statements but help no one.”

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Vivian Wineman will head the JLC

By Simon Rocker, June 18, 2009

The Jewish Leadership Council has ended speculation over its top job by confirming that new Board of Deputies’ president Vivian Wineman has taken over as its chair.

Since its inception six years ago, the council has been led by its founding chairman Henry Grunwald, who retired from the presidency of the Board last month after a maximum six consecutive years in office.

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ITV defends anti-Jewish comment

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

ITV has defended the broadcasting of an anti-Jewish remark on a reality show, claiming it was “justified by the context of the programme”.

On ITV1’s Dating The Enemy on Monday night, the female contestant, Bella, was talking with her mother about the male participant, Alan.
When her mother asked Bella about Alan’s religion, she replied that he was an atheist, adding: “At least he’s not Jewish.”

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Muslims snub drive against BNP

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

The Muslim Council of Britain has been criticised for not supporting a multi-faith initiative designed to formulate a co-ordinated response to the BNP.

Muslim interfaith activist Fiyaz Mughal is upset at the non-attendance of MCB representatives at a meeting held under the aegis of Faith Matters at Westminster last Friday.

Mr Mughal — the Faith Matters director who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours — had invited 25 “key figures” from ethnic and religious groups to discuss the way forward after the BNP had taken two seats in the European elections.

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