UK news

UJIA caps cost of 2009 youth tours

By Leon Symons, December 11, 2008

British youth group tours to Israel next year will cost the same as this year — after UJIA stepped in to cap the costs of the trips in response to the recession.

Some groups said this week that they would have had to increase their prices by anything up to 25 per cent, which they acknowledge would have taken the Israel Experience tour out of reach of many families.

The trips next year will remain at around £2,400-£2,500, the same as those of 2008. However, all the groups have cut their trips by up to three days, though none will be less than 25 days long.


Faith schools report attacked

By Leon Symons, December 11, 2008

A report calling for faith schools to stop selecting on the basis of pupils’ religion has been heavily criticised.

The Runnymede Trust’s report, Right to Divide? Faith Schools and Community Cohesion, says that “if faith schools are convinced of their relevance for society, then that should apply equally for all children”.

It questioned the commitment of faith schools to the government’s social cohesion programme and said: “Too often, there remains a resistance to learning about other faiths.”

Parents, said the report, can use faith as a means of ensuring social


Faulty Basil?

December 11, 2008

Basil grown in Israel is thought to have caused 32 cases of food poisoning in England and Wales last year. The Health Protection Agency linked the rare Salmonella senftenberg cases to contaminated leaves. More than 3,700 herbs were tested by the agency between May and October 2007.


Next step Europe in lawyer’s BBC bias battle

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, December 11, 2008

A lawyer is considering the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as his last legal option in a two-year campaign to force the BBC to publish its 2004 report investigating its Middle Eastern coverage.

Steven Sugar is waiting to hear the House of Lords’ judgement on his latest attempt to force publication of the Balen Report, written by BBC senior editor Malcolm Balen.

But if the Law Lords reject his appeal, the Putney solicitor says he “will certainly consider” taking the case to Strasbourg.


JC chairman stands down after five years

December 11, 2008

Peter Levy, who has been chairman of the Jewish Chronicle for five years, is retiring from the role. He will also be stepping down from the board of directors.

Mr Levy said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to chair the JC, but this is an appropriate time for me to step down, with a new editor and hopefully a new era of continued success for the Jewish Chronicle.”


I still can’t walk, says bomb-blast victim

By Candice Krieger, December 11, 2008

An Israeli paralysed by a suicide bomb has returned to the UK after his attempts to follow a treatment plan designed to make him walk again failed.

Zion Shitrit, 24, suffered severe spinal damage after the bombing in Hadera in 2005. Doctors said the nerves in his legs were destroyed and he would never walk again.

In April, he came to the Mind Clinic in London which works with people suffering from spinal injuries. He regained feeling in his toes, stood for the first time since the injury and was told he should be walking within two years.


Champion of ‘just and open Judaism’ dies

By Marcus Dysch, December 11, 2008

Rabbi Dr Michael Rosen, founder of Yakar, the alternative Jewish community centre, died this week.

He was in his late 50s and had suffered from a degenerative neurological disorder for some time. He was injured in a fall last month and died on Sunday night in Israel, where he had lived since 1993 with his wife, Gila, and their six children.

More than 1,000 people attended his funeral, which was held in Jerusalem on Monday.


Prostitution charges

December 11, 2008

A man has appeared at Newcastle magistrates’ court alongside a police officer who allegedly advertised herself on an escort website.

Osher Marks, 56, of Ravenscourt Place, Gateshead, faced charges of conspiracy to manage brothels for prostitution and conspiracy to control prostitutes for gain. Alongside him was Victoria Thorne, 28, of Washing, Tyne and Wear, who was charged with misconduct in a public office.


Divine aid

December 11, 2008

A special day of prayer was observed last week among strictly Orthodox congregations in response to the growing economic crisis.

Notices were posted in synagogues by the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. Rabbi Avraham Pinter, principal of Yesodey Hatorah said that the crisis “is affecting everybody” and donors had been hit.

“A lot of food products are imported so weakness of the pound is having an additional adverse effect,” he said.


Online gene pool to help unlock the past

By Leon Symons, December 11, 2008

Millions of records from 14 countries were placed online this week as a result of a major link-up between two genealogical websites.

The new records potentially contain information about a host of British personalities who are either Jewish or have Jewish ancestry. They include David Beckham, Rachel Stevens, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry, Esther Rantzen, Matt Lucas and many others.