UK news

Baroness Neuberger: Allow gay marriage in synagogue

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

Baroness Neuberger, president of Liberal Judaism, this week called for a change in the law to allow civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples to be held in synagogue.

The ceremonies, introduced by the government four years ago, cannot take place in a house of worship or use religious language as they are considered the equivalent to civil marriage.

In a Lords debate on the Equality Bill on Monday, Baroness Neuberger said that she had been told by couples that they and their parents would have been “overjoyed” if they had been able to have the ceremony in a synagogue.

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£3.5m to convert pub to Bobov community centre

By Marcus Dysch, January 28, 2010

A strictly Orthodox community which hopes to turn a former pub into a centre for social and religious activities is aiming to raise £3.5million to complete the project.

Work is yet to begin on the conversion of The Swan more than a year after the building was bought by Stamford Hill’s Bobov community and four months after planning permission was granted by Hackney Council.

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Why Jewish families choose other faith schools

By Jessica Elgot, January 28, 2010

Many families are sending their children to Christian faith schools rather than local comprehensives.

They see them as offering better education, achieving better results, and having a stronger religious ethos than secular alternatives.

It was revealed this week that Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is Jewish but atheist, is to send his eldest child to a top Church of England primary.

He is not alone. Jewish parents often point to the fact that two-thirds of 329 primary schools with “perfect” SATs results last year, were Anglican, Catholic or Jewish schools.

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David Abraham: High ideals for Channel 4

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

David Abraham, the chief executive of UKTV, has been appointed as chief executive of Channel 4.

Mr Abraham, 46, replaces Andy Duncan, who stepped down in November.

He was a co-founder of ad agency St Luke’s and previously worked at Discovery Networks USA and UK.

Mr Abraham said: “This is an extremely exciting, if challenging, time to be working in the media. Innovation has been part of Channel 4’s history and it will be at the heart of its future.

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LFI's Luciana Berger to seek election in Liverpool

By Martin Bright, January 28, 2010

The director of Labour Friends of Israel has been chosen as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Liverpool Wavertree.

Luciana Berger, 28, who is seen as a one of Labour’s rising stars, will stand in the seat currently held by Jane Kennedy, who has been the constituency MP for 18 years.

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Gaza still an issue over MCB Memorial attendance

By Martin Bright, January 28, 2010

The Muslim Council of Britain voted to send a junior representative to the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration this week.

After attending for the first time in 2008, the MCB resumed its boycott of the event last year.

The secretary general of the MCB, Dr Mohamed Abdul Bari could not attend, due to a previous engagement at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland.

Nor was his controversial deputy Dr Daoud Abdullah or any of the three assistant secretary generals available.

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United Synagogue row over 'live near shul' rule

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

The United Synagogue has been warned that it could be left without a congregation in some parts of London because of a rule banning some shuls accepting members who live more than one and a quarter miles away.

Rabbi Stanley Coten, of Ruislip and District Affiliated Synagogue, has intervened in a row between the US and its 14 affiliated synagogues over the rule.

In a letter to the Chief Rabbi, the London Beth Din and leaders of the US rabbinical council, he said it was putting off potential members.

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Terrorism level is up, but Jews are not targets

By Martin Bright, January 28, 2010

Jews are not considered a specific target following the recent assessment that there is an increased chance of a terrorist attack in the UK.

Intelligence sources say the threat level has been elevated from substantial to severe — but a Whitehall official said: “We haven’t seen anything to suggest an imminent threat to the Jewish community.”

Around three-quarters of all investigations into terrorism have links to Pakistan, which is seen as far more significant than links to the conflict in the Middle East.

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Tefillin terror on US flight

By Andrew Silow-Carroll, January 28, 2010

The New York Daily News likes to think of itself as the plain-speaking voice of the city.

So when a US Airways jet made an unscheduled stop in Philadelphia after a flight attendant had grown suspicious of a teenage passenger wrapping himself in what turned out to be tefillin, the News led its report with a blunt assessment: “What schmucks.”

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War crimes: Will the government ever act?

By Martin Bright and Stephen Pollard, January 28, 2010

Legislation to prevent magistrates issuing arrest warrants for high-profile foreign visitors accused of war crimes has been delayed because it is still awaiting a decision from Gordon Brown.

One senior government source close to the process told the JC this week: “There is no evidence that the Prime Minister is having second thoughts, but he needs to press the button.”

At the same time, Downing Street sources said that Number 10 was furious that the Justice Secretary Jack Straw is still dragging his feet over the issue.

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