UK news

Chief Rabbi invited to Hay Festival

April 30, 2009

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is to appear at one of Britain’s top literary festivals next month.

He will discuss the future of Judaism, Jewish life and Israel in the 21st century at the Guardian Hay Festival in Wales, in conversation with BBC presenter Ed Stourton.

This year’s line-up, with Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, and South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has an emphasis on religion.


Israeli and Arab kids team up — for cricket

By Jenni Frazer, April 30, 2009

Two weeks ago, if you had asked most children in southern Israel what they thought of cricket, the answer would have been a blank stare. But last week, thanks to a joint project by the Israel Cricket Association and the British charity, Cricket for Change, the response was overwhelming. As the old 10CC song had it: “I don’t like cricket. I LOVE it!”


Kosher caterer bites the dust

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2009

Kosher caterer Sharett has gone into liquidation after the failure of attempts to keep it afloat.

An order to wind up the north-west London company, which was started by Neal Sharpe and Ruth Synett in 1991, was made at the Insolvency Court on April 16.

In January last year, Sharett entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in order to stay in business and repay creditors more than £200,000.


Knock, knock: it’s Wizo on the doorstep

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2009

Wizo UK is to devote its annual Jewish Women’s Week next week to support for countering domestic violence in Israel under the campaign title of “Knock, Knock”.

Andy Epstein, chair of Wizo, said that it was “doubly appropriate as Jewish Women’s Week is the only Home Office authorised door-to-door campaign in the Jewish community.

“The ‘Knock, Knock’ title also refers to the hard knocks people take in life, both physical and mental. The money raised will help to support our projects for women and children suffering from domestic violence in Israel.”


Barclays stands firm over tennis star ban

By Marcus Dysch, April 30, 2009

The chief executive of Barclays Bank has responded to campaigners’ concerns about the company’s continuing sponsorship of a tennis tournament from which Israel’s top woman player was barred.

Retired stockbroker and Barclays shareholder Alan Diamond questioned John Varley in front of 1,100 people at Barclays’ annual general meeting last week.

The United Arab Emirates refused to grant a visa to Shahar Peer to compete in the event in February, prompting the withdrawal of support from the Wall Street Journal Europe and the cancellation of the Tennis Channel’s coverage.


New award for Britain’s Shoah heroes

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2009

An award is to be created by the government to honour British heroes of the Holocaust who risked their lives to rescue those persecuted by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Liam Byrne, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, announced the initiative on Wednesday, the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid his first visit to Auschwitz, accompanied by his wife Sarah.


Party drug kills medical student

By Marcus Dysch, April 30, 2009

A 21-year-old medical student has been found dead after taking a “party drug” which the Home Office failed to ban despite warnings of its dangers.

Hester Stewart’s parents paid tribute to their “caring, wonderful girl” and attacked the government for failing to implement plans to outlaw gamma-butyrlactone (GBL) last year.

Ms Stewart, whose family were formerly members of Brighton and Hove Orthodox Hebrew Congregation, died at a house in Brighton on Sunday morning. A container of GBL was found close to her.

It mixes with acid in the stomach to create date-rape drug GHB.


Equality Bill will help us

By Leon Symons, April 30, 2009

The government’s new Equality Bill, which received its first reading this week, will finally put an end to the problem of students being forced to sit examinations on Shabbat or festival days.

It will also mean that observant Jews will be able to leave early for Shabbat and take festivals off without taking them out of their holiday allowance — and without fear of discrimination by their employer.

The new legislation also bars discrimination in private members’ clubs, so Jews and their guests cannot be refused entry or access to a bar.


MP: no need to alter arms to Israel policy

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2009

Andrew Gwynne, parliamentary chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, says there is no need for the government to change its policy over arm sales to Israel following a review of exports announced last week by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Mr Miliband told the Commons that the government was “looking at all extant licences to see whether any of these need to be re-considered in light of recent events in Gaza”.


Freedom of the City for Prosor

By Isabel Janner, April 30, 2009

From today Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor, might be eligible to herd sheep across London Bridge and wander around with his sword drawn — if only it were not for modern day health and safety regulations.