UK news

Ben Rich named as new Reform Judaism head

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2011

The Movement for Reform Judaism has appointed public relations consultant Ben Rich to be its next chief executive.

He will succeed executive director Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand full-time in May, although he will begin working with her next month to ensure a smooth transition.

Mr Rich, 44, is already familiar with the movement, having acted as its PR adviser on projects such as the launch of the Reform siddur three years ago.

His communal experience also includes work for the Jewish Community Secondary School and Mitzvah Day.


Stalker faces new breach trial

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

A former TV producer who was previously jailed for stalking a young mother faces a new trial for an alleged breach of a life-long restraining order.

Elliot Fogel, 35, claims the new case was brought against him after he had attempted to take civil action against the woman he stalked.

Last year Claire Waxman described how Mr Fogel's harassment had ruined her life and the strain it had put on her health and her family's well-being.

Mr Fogel, of Edgware, north west London, is barred from being within one mile of Mrs Waxman at any time and must not contact her directly or indirectly.


Ofcom investigation into Peace TV

By Robyn Rosen, February 17, 2011

Media watchdog Ofcom is investigating UK channel Peace TV for giving a platform to banned Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.

Dr Naik was banned from entering Britain last year by Home Secretary Theresa May after allegedly claiming America was "controlled by the Jews".

An Ofcom spokesman confirmed: "We are in the middle of an investigation about Peace TV.

"Ofcom will not tolerate extremism on British television, and transgressors will be dealt with."


Quakers consider Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, February 17, 2011

British Quakers are considering "all options" after a debate on boycotting Israeli settlement goods.

Marigold Bentley, assistant general secretary of Quaker Peace and Social Witness said all boycotts and campaigns were currently being considered.

Quakers in Ramallah have called for the organisation to commit to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, at the national "Meeting for Sufferings" last week with 150 British Quaker representatives.

Ms Bentley said: "We have discussed sanctions in the past, in the cases of Iraq and Zimbabwe; we are a peace movement.


School battle over autistic boy

By Robyn Rosen, February 17, 2011

A mother of a severely autistic boy has said she feels she has failed him after losing a battle with a council to send him to a top autism school.

Chase Lindsay is the surviving twin of a 23-week premature birth. He weighed just one pound at birth.

He remained on a life support machine for seven months, flat-lined twice and his parents were told he had a one per cent chance of survival.

Now, aged five, he is physically able, but does not speak.


EasyJet's kosher flight meal - bacon

By Robyn Rosen, February 17, 2011

Trainee Accountant Victor Kaufman couldn't believe his ears when he settled into his seat for a budget flight from Israel.

For shortly after take-off, the crew announced they were about to begin serving food - which included bacon baguettes and ham melts.

"It was a little insensitive," he said. "I think they need a lesson or two on cultural awareness if they expand their routes into the Middle East."

Mr Kaufman, 25, from East Finchley was on an easyJet flight from Tel Aviv to Luton last weekend.


Star no longer shines on the EDL

By Jessica Elgot and Jennifer Lipman, February 17, 2011

A tabloid newspaper has apparently switched direction after furious criticism of a front-page story widely held to have been a message of support for the English Defence League.

Last week the Daily Star, owned by the Jewish media tycoon Richard Desmond, ran a front-page story headlined "EDL to become political party." The story said: "In the Daily Star phone poll yesterday, 98 per cent of readers said they agreed with the EDL's policies."


Croc attack remand

By Jessica Elgot, February 17, 2011

A strictly Orthodox man convicted of clubbing his wife with a pink Croc sandal failed to appear in court for sentencing on Friday. He was arrested at the weekend and will now appear on March 1.

Solomon Glausiusz, 42, of Stamford Hill, who attacked his wife of 14 years, Yerusha, while he was holding their baby daughter, was convicted after a trial last year.

The unemployed father of six pleaded not guilty and said the attack, in June 2009, had been in self-defence. He was due in Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday to be sentenced for actual bodily harm.


Gay couples may be able to wed in synagogue

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

Gay couples may soon be able to marry legally in both Reform and Liberal synagogues under proposed changes to marriage laws.

Same-sex couples are expected to be given the right to hold legal civil
partnership ceremonies in places of worship.

The move would enable non-Orthodox communities to hold a wedding under a chuppah, and immediately follow it with a civil ceremony in a shul.

Liberal Judaism, Quakers and gay rights groups, led the pressure on the government to offer greater equality.


The love expert's Valentine message

By Jennifer Lipman, February 17, 2011

Israel's foremost authority on passion provoked a heated Valentine's Eve debate this week when he told a London crowd that monogamy was old-fashioned and highlighted the similarities between the lyrics of love songs and the comments of murderers.

Professor Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, president of Haifa University and one of the world's only academic experts in emotions, said that as with Communism, there were many victims of "romantic ideology".