UK news

Gordon Brown: I'm backing Stacey Solomon

By Jessica Elgot, November 20, 2009

Gordon Brown has revealed that he and his family are backing Stacey Solomon to win The X Factor.

The Prime Minister threw his support behind the Dagenham diva, who is the only girl left in the competition, after the controversial departure of Welsh warbler Lucie Jones.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, Mr Brown said he had been impressed by Stacey, before adding that he wished all the singers well, claiming he watches the show with his wife Sarah and sons John and Fraser.


Mendel Kaplan dies

By Jessica Elgot, November 20, 2009

The South African industrialist Mendel Kaplan, former chairman of the Jewish Agency's board of governors, has died aged 73.

Mr Kaplan, who made his fortune in steel works, suffered a stroke at his home in Cape Town.

He was known for his devotion to Jewish and Zionist causes, as honorary president of Keren Hayesod and a former chairman of World Jewish Congress’ executive committee.

He also founded the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town in 1980, and the South African Jewish Museum, which was opened by Nelson Mandela in 2000.


Martial arts group denies Nazi clothing

By Marcus Dysch, November 19, 2009

A leading mixed-martial arts group has distanced itself from a clothing company which features Nazi-style images on its products.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship held a tournament in Manchester on Saturday night at which a number of fighters wore Hoelzer Reich items.

The sport is growing quickly on both sides of the Atlantic as an alternative attraction for boxing and wrestling fans. British fighters Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy were among those on the bill at the MEN Arena.

Hoelzer Reich’s clothes feature Iron Crosses and swastika and SS-style emblems.


Footballer banned for racial abuse

By Marcus Dysch and Danny Caro, November 19, 2009

A Maccabi Premier Division footballer who racially abused a fellow Jewish player has been fined and banned from football for six months.

Ashley Rubin called opposition striker Virgil Levy, who is of South American origin, “Paki” and told him during a game in April that he did not belong in the community or in the league.


New survey: do you fly the flag for Israel?

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

The first full national survey on how British Jews feel about Israel is to be carried out early next year.

It has been commissioned by the Pears Foundation, one of the major family trusts supporting Jewish causes, and will be undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

Though such surveys are fairly routine in the United States, they remain a rarity among British Jews.

JPR published some information on British Jewish feelings towards Israel 13 years ago, but this was based on a few questions which formed part of a broader survey of social attitudes.


Israeli police to get lessons in UK

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

Sixteen senior Israeli policemen are being brought to Britain to take part in a special training programme to improve their relations with the country’s Arab citizens.

The brigadier-generals, one of whom may become the head of the Israeli police force, will spend five days at the end of November with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and four days with the Metropolitan Police in London.

The trip has been organised by the Abraham Fund Initiative (AFI), which is dedicated to improving co-existence between Israelis and Arabs living in Israel.


Legal battle over convert's Jewish status

By James Martin, November 19, 2009

The head of a legal team fighting to restore a convert’s status as a halachically recognised Jew has warned Jerusalem’s High Rabbinical Court that there would be a “war of the titans” if it did not revoke a judgment that he had never been Jewish.

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Centre, spoke after the court postponed an appeal hearing against a decision by the Jerusalem Beth Din to rescind Yossi Fackenheim’s Orthodox conversion.


Jews asked by lawyer for views on assisted suicide

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

The Director of Public Prosecutions is calling on Jewish communities across England and Wales to give their views on his interim policy on assisted suicide.

Keir Starmer, who leads the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), has published the factors he takes into account when deciding whether or not to allow prosecutions for assisted suicide.

Mr Starmer said: “I am keen for as many people as possible to take part in this debate, including Jewish communities throughout England and Wales.


Campaign to help people with learning disabilities be barmitzvah

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

A national campaign which encourages synagogues and Jewish organisations to include people with learning disabilities has been launched.

The Inclusion Campaign was launched on Sunday at the UK premiere of the documentary film Praying with Lior, at the UK Jewish Film Festival.

The campaign, led by learning disability charity the Judith Trust, asks congregations to initiate practical steps to ensure that people with learning disabilities have a greater involvement in religious and communal life.


Antisemitism institute to be opened at Birkbeck

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

The first academic institute in Britain to deal solely with antisemitism — only the second in Europe — is to be set up in London, funded by £1.5 million from the Pears Foundation.

The new institute will occupy a building on the campus at Birkbeck College, part of the University of London, and will be next to the proposed new home of the Wiener Library, the world’s oldest Holocaust memorial institution, which will offer its resources to the project.