UK news

Aliyah-bid couple to get help from shul

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2009

A South London synagogue has rallied to the support of a family of black converts who have waited two years for approval to make aliyah.

Carl and Maleka Levy were recently told by Israel’s Ministry of Interior that they must fly out to Israel to attend an official hearing to prove their Jewish credentials.

Now Bromley Synagogue, which the Levys and their five daughters attend, has agreed to underwrite the cost of the couple’s trip to Israel in order to state their case.


Former JNF boss drops his employment case

By Marcus Dysch, August 6, 2009

The former chief executive of JNF UK has withdrawn his claim for constructive dismissal against the charity.

Simon Winters agreed to drop the proceedings following negotiations between the parties. He will receive no compensation or further payment from the JNF.

Mr Winters was suspended from his role on June 27 last year while an investigation took place into allegations he had failed to control the charity’s income and expenditure ratio, allowed JNF money to be used “extravagantly” and used his company credit cards improperly.


Revealed: future faces of Orthodoxy

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2009

The first crop of new rabbis for mainstream Orthodox congregations has been trained in Britain after a gap of several years.

Five students passed their final exams on the London Montefiore semichah (ordination) programme, launched three years ago in partnership with the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.

It was founded following the closure of rabbinic training in 2002 at the London School of Jewish Studies, formerly Jews’ College, which historically trained ministers for central Orthodoxy in the UK.


Regulator considers War on Want complaint

By Marcus Dysch, August 6, 2009

The Charity Commission has confirmed it is considering a complaint from the World Jewish Congress about the actions of anti-poverty charity War on Want.

WJC president Ronald Lauder wrote to the Commission last month after WoW called for a worldwide boycott of Israel.

A Commission spokeswoman said it was “considering the contents” of the letter. However, the representative could not say when the matter would be resolved or what action could be taken.


Shul suspends its rabbi ‘for usury protest’

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2009

The rabbi of Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks in the East End of London, has been suspended over his participation in a protest against banks charging high interest rates.

Rabbi Natan Asmoucha, who arrived from Zimbabwe just a year and a half ago, faced allegations of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing on Monday convened by the mahamad (executive) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.

But angry congregants have attacked the executive’s action, claiming it was merely a pretext to carry out a previous proposal to make the rabbi redundant.


Shivah-conman film could make Oscars

By Marcus Dysch, August 6, 2009

A critically acclaimed short film starring Sir Derek Jacobi as a trickster targeting shivah houses could be nominated for an Oscar after winning a prestigious award in Hollywood.

Sidney Turtlebaum won best foreign film at the annual LA Shorts Fest — the world’s largest short film festival — last week and is now automatically eligible for Academy Award consideration.

The 10-minute comedy was first screened at last year’s UK Jewish film festival.


Hate Shiekh’s British tour sparks outrage

By Leon Symons, August 6, 2009

The Board of Deputies has sent an angry protest to the Home Office about the UK visit of a leading Saudi Arabian cleric who has made numerous antisemitic speeches.

Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais has been on a lecture tour to mosques and shared a platform with Tony Baldry, Tory MP for Banbury, in the town last week.


Rachel Stevens' wedding: the Jews talked...

By Jan Shure, August 6, 2009

OK! Magazine may have made every guest attending the wedding of singer Rachel Stevens and Alex Bourne sign a confidentiality agreement — but you can’t gag the Jews.

Even though guests’ mobile phones and cameras were banned, the JC can report — four full days ahead of OK!’s “exclusive” pictures and reports of Rachel’s nuptials — that the Strictly Come Dancing star was an hour late for her chuppah at top London hotel, Claridge’s.


Sacks sets ‘inclusive’ new school entry tests

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2009

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks this week issued admission guidelines to Jewish schools in the wake of the JFS court ruling.

New entry rules, based on Jewish practice, should be “as inclusive as possible”, he said, following the Court of Appeal’s recent ruling that it was unlawful to pick pupils according to whether or not their parents were Jewish.

But the advice could prove academic, because the House of Lords — in one of its final legal decisions before the new Supreme Court takes over — agreed last Friday to hear an appeal from JFS against the Appeal Court ruling.


Jeremy Clarkson's WW2 spoof backfires

By Jessica Elgot, August 5, 2009
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is not known for his tact.

But now the presenter, who has insulted most European countries, has added another, Poland, to his list after making a spoof car advert about Germany's invasion of Poland, which led to World War Two.

Ofcom has confirmed it received 47 complaints about the advert, shown during this season’s Top Gear finale on BBC 2.

The tag in the joke advert is “Volkswagen Scirocco TDI. Berlin to Warsaw in one tank”, referring to the car economical use of fuel.