UK news

New survey: do you fly the flag for Israel?

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

The first full national survey on how British Jews feel about Israel is to be carried out early next year.

It has been commissioned by the Pears Foundation, one of the major family trusts supporting Jewish causes, and will be undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

Though such surveys are fairly routine in the United States, they remain a rarity among British Jews.

JPR published some information on British Jewish feelings towards Israel 13 years ago, but this was based on a few questions which formed part of a broader survey of social attitudes.

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Israeli police to get lessons in UK

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

Sixteen senior Israeli policemen are being brought to Britain to take part in a special training programme to improve their relations with the country’s Arab citizens.

The brigadier-generals, one of whom may become the head of the Israeli police force, will spend five days at the end of November with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and four days with the Metropolitan Police in London.

The trip has been organised by the Abraham Fund Initiative (AFI), which is dedicated to improving co-existence between Israelis and Arabs living in Israel.

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Legal battle over convert's Jewish status

By James Martin, November 19, 2009

The head of a legal team fighting to restore a convert’s status as a halachically recognised Jew has warned Jerusalem’s High Rabbinical Court that there would be a “war of the titans” if it did not revoke a judgment that he had never been Jewish.

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Centre, spoke after the court postponed an appeal hearing against a decision by the Jerusalem Beth Din to rescind Yossi Fackenheim’s Orthodox conversion.

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Jews asked by lawyer for views on assisted suicide

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

The Director of Public Prosecutions is calling on Jewish communities across England and Wales to give their views on his interim policy on assisted suicide.

Keir Starmer, who leads the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), has published the factors he takes into account when deciding whether or not to allow prosecutions for assisted suicide.

Mr Starmer said: “I am keen for as many people as possible to take part in this debate, including Jewish communities throughout England and Wales.

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Campaign to help people with learning disabilities be barmitzvah

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

A national campaign which encourages synagogues and Jewish organisations to include people with learning disabilities has been launched.

The Inclusion Campaign was launched on Sunday at the UK premiere of the documentary film Praying with Lior, at the UK Jewish Film Festival.

The campaign, led by learning disability charity the Judith Trust, asks congregations to initiate practical steps to ensure that people with learning disabilities have a greater involvement in religious and communal life.

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Antisemitism institute to be opened at Birkbeck

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

The first academic institute in Britain to deal solely with antisemitism — only the second in Europe — is to be set up in London, funded by £1.5 million from the Pears Foundation.

The new institute will occupy a building on the campus at Birkbeck College, part of the University of London, and will be next to the proposed new home of the Wiener Library, the world’s oldest Holocaust memorial institution, which will offer its resources to the project.

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Boris Johnson backs Jewish festival

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

A major new showcase for Anglo-Jewish culture, based loosely on the Edinburgh Festival, is to be launched next spring with the backing of London’s City Hall.

The month-long Open Jewish Cultural Festival will provide a platform for Jewish performance from Britain and abroad, and will include some established events.

One option being considered by festival organisers is to open with Jewish Book Week and close with the formal opening of the new Jewish Museum at its new home in Camden.

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Simon Cowell loves Stacey Solomon: official

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Simon Cowell has revealed he is a secret fan of Stacey Solomon and thinks she will make it the finals of X Factor.

The music mogul and X Factor judge made the comments exclusively to the JC at the Norwood annual dinner this week.

Mr Cowell, 50, said: “I like Stacey. She’s a sweetheart. She’s a nice girl with a good voice and she’s getting better. She’s going to be in the final.

“She’s my favourite act after my own acts.”

Former King Solomon pupil Stacey, 20, will be surprised at the comments fromMr Cowell who has criticised her performances in the past.

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British ambassador: Israeli rights are in the bible

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

The deep mistrust that exists between Israel and the Palestinians will only be exacerbated by the announcement this week of 900 new homes in occupied territory, according to Britain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Tom Phillips, in Britain this week, said: “I don’t know why the Israelis are doing this. There’s clearly a negotiation with the US over the nature of more building, a moratorium on settlements which it is hoped will be enough to get peace talks going again.

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Row over Yasmin Alibhai-Brown synagogue invite

By Marcus Dysch, November 19, 2009

A leading Reform synagogue has been attacked by the Zionist Federation for hosting one of Britain’s most outspoken critics of Israel.

Columnist and author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown appeared at North Western Reform Synagogue (Alyth Gardens), in north west London, on Wednesday.

At the event, jointly hosted by the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCore), Ms Alibhai-Brown spoke about her life in Britain after leaving her native Uganda.

The one-woman show is described as “the impassioned and poignant story of how Shakespeare and the theatre” changed her life.

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