UK news

Ordain women, rabbi urges the Archbishop

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

One of the UK's leading Progressive rabbis has intervened in the Church of England's debate over women bishops, urging the Archbishop of Canterbury: "For goodness sake, ordain them".

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, senior rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), St John's Wood, for the past six years, made her appeal in an open letter to Dr Rowan Williams.

The Church of England Synod - its governing lay council - reaffirmed its support this week for ordaining women bishops, although without a timetable. Traditionalists have threatened to leave the Church if the plan goes ahead.


Egyptian 'spy' inquest opens in UK

By Jennifer Lipman, July 15, 2010

An inquest into the death of a suspected Egyptian Mossad spy recorded an open verdict on Thursday at City of Westminster Coroner's Court.

Dr Ashraf Marwan, a close aide of Anwar Sadat before the then Egyptian president was assassinated, was found to have fallen from the balcony of his London home in 2007. He was 62.

Before his death he had been named by several sources both as a Mossad spy and as a double agent for Egypt. It was alleged in 2002 that Dr Marwan had alerted Israel of Egypt and Syria's plans to attack on Yom Kippur of 1973.


Have a cheeseburger (thanks, Heather)

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 15, 2010

Heather Mills, ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney, has secured kashrut certification from the Manchester Beth Din for her vegan food brand - although the products in her range that simulate pork and seafood will not get the rabbinic stamp on its packaging.

The Redwood Wholefood Company produces plant-based alternatives to chicken, beef and pork, as well as and dairy-free cheeses. All of its 61 products are kosher, but the Beth Din's MK kosher stamp will not appear on Cheatin' ham slices, vegetarian bacon rashers and scampi-style pieces.


More power to your elbow: synagogues urged to go solar for cash

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010

Synagogues could make more than £1m a year producing electricity if they installed solar panels on their roofs, new research has shown.

British Gas has estimated that synagogues in the UK could make more than £1,269,468 via the "Feed-In Tariff".

The scheme, launched by the former Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, means that synagogues which install solar panels would get fixed payments for every unit of electricity they produce.


Take a seat mum, I won the Crossrail design competition

By Robyn Rosen, July 15, 2010

A Leeds University student has won a national competition with a seat design for London's new Crossrail stations.

Michael Berwin, 22, applied for the competition as part of his master's in product design.

"I was sent this competition brief from my department and I'd never done any seating designs before, so I thought it would be a challenge," he said.

"I had only worked on consumer products and electrical designs before, and wanted the opportunity to do something a bit different."


Care home told elderly volunteer to get out

By Robyn Rosen, July 15, 2010

A great-grandmother was threatened with eviction from a London care home after the council delayed a decision to fund her fees for more than a year, leaving her £22,000 in debt.

The money is owed to Wembley's Edinburgh House, run by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation.

Rene de Mesquita's daughter, Hilary Weinstein, said her mother, who is 89 years old and has myeloma, diabetes, leg ulcers, a heart condition, dementia and partial sight, moved into residential care in March 2009 and applied for funding from Brent council in June 2009 but has still not heard.


CPS to probe judge who acquitted Gaza activists

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010

The Crown Prosecution Service may investigate the conduct of a Brighton judge who inferred an anti-Israel activist should win a medal for bravery.

The Board of Deputies have asked the Office of Judicial Complaints to review the judge's summing up and the CPS have also requested a transcript.

Last month a jury acquitted seven activists of causing £200,000 worth of damage to an arms factory in January 2009. The defendants claimed they were trying to prevent the factory, owned by EDO MBM, from making arms for Israel during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.


Our reading list for the new Israel envoy

By James Lewis, July 15, 2010

If Matthew Gould has any spare time when he flies off to Israel to become British ambassador, the JC has helpfully compiled a reading list.

The idea was inspired by the coalition's Middle East Minister Alistair Burt, who has asked Jewish, Israeli and Arab journalists for suggestions of essential books to read before he visited the region.

Mr Gould is the first Jewish ambassador to be appointed as Britain's man in Tel Aviv.

Stand-up comedian Josh Howie, 34, suggested Shalom Auslander's critically acclaimed Foreskin's Lament.


Police will not charge Hamas man

By Robyn Rosen, July 15, 2010

Police will not prosecute Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi despite the fact that he told London students that he "longs to be a martyr, takes pride in being a terrorist," and that Israel "must come to an end".

Police began investigating after Dr Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, addressed students at the London's School of Oriental and African Studies' (SOAS) on February 9.

They handed the investigation over to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).


Genealogy site boosts searches

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010

A Jewish genealogy organisation has teamed up with a popular family heritage website to help people researching distant Jewish relatives.

Jewish research charity JewishGen holds more than 14 million records which researchers can consult about their Jewish ancestry.

The organisation has agreed a deal with Tel Aviv-based My Heritage, a website which has 50 million members. Users create profiles to share information on their family trees and search for missing or unknown relatives, and the site's software matches up families when it finds connections.