UK news

National Jewish studies curriculum in pipeline

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2009

“You are leading the Crime Scene Investigation Team to investigate the first murder in the history of humanity,” the students are told.

A class for trainee detectives, perhaps? Not quite. It’s the opening of a pilot programme about Cain and Abel for secondary schools — part of a project intended to transform Jewish studies teaching in the UK.

The United Jewish Israel Appeal and the United Synagogue’s Agency for Jewish Education are hoping to create a national Jewish studies curriculum in mainstream Orthodox schools for children from five to 18.


Stamp sale raises £500k for charities

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2009

A renowned international philatelist who died in London last year has left his entire stamp collection to two Israeli charities.

Sotheby’s is to auction the collection, worth around £500,000, bequeathed by David Barton to the Weizmann Institute and Shaare Zedek Medical Centre.

Mr Barton, who died aged 67 in March, was a scientist at Westminster University and a member of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John’s Wood. He left his entire estate, of which the stamp collection is the centrepiece, to the two charities. The auction is on March 6.


Shechitah threat is challenged

By Leon Symons, February 12, 2009

Shechitah UK, the organisation set up to protect Jewish religious slaughter, has accused the MP sponsoring a Commons early day motion which threatens shechitah of “interfering with the fundamental freedom of a religious community”.

In a letter to North West Leicestershire Labour MP David Taylor, Shechitah UK’s chairman Henry Grunwald said that the British Jewish community viewed “with great concern” his attempt to change the law which exempts religious slaughter from the practice of pre-stunning animals.


Live: House of Lords debate on Gaza

February 6, 2009

The House of Lords is today holding a debate on developments in Gaza.

Around 35 peers are listed to speak, with each allotted 10 minutes to give their views on last month’s conflict, and the possibilities for peace in the region.

Colonel’s UK tour halted by arrest fear

By Leon Symons Marcus Dysch and Anshel Pfeffer, February 5, 2009

An Israeli reserve colonel who came to speak in Britain last week was forced to return home.

The officer, Geva Rapp, a deputy commander of Israel’s Gaza offensive, was scheduled to speak to mainly student audiences during a six-day visit.

But his tour came to an abrupt end after details of last Thursday’s event at the London Jewish student centre leaked out on the internet.


Israel's case ignored in secret government memo

By Leon Symons, February 5, 2009

An internal UK government briefing note on Israel’s recent action in Gaza is written almost entirely from the Palestinian perspective.

The two-and-a-half page private memo was prepared by the Foreign Office and the Home Office’s research and information unit. It is headed: “The British government position on the situation in Gaza”. It contains only two mentions of Hamas and gives no explanation or context as to how or why Israel launched its operation on December 27.


Muslim peer in ‘student war’ slur

By Marcus Dysch, February 5, 2009

A Muslim peer has claimed that student societies are recruiting young British Jews to join the Israeli army. They fought, he said, in last month’s Gaza conflict and should be prosecuted for war crimes on their return to this country.

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said student unions had been “actively recruiting young people in Britain to join the Israeli Defence Force”.

British citizens had, he claimed, “gone out to fight against the Palestinian people”.


Dead rabbi used by internet scammers

By Marcus Dysch, February 5, 2009

Internet scammers are attempting to embezzle money using the names of late philanthropist Benzion Dunner and a Scottish law professor.

An email, sent from Hong Kong and written in broken English, asks recipients to provide legal documents in order to share funds left in the will of Rabbi Dunner, who died in a car crash last March.

The email states: “I do not wish to bore you with much stories [sic], my intention of writing you this mail is to solicit for your partnership in a rewarding venture with funds left by my deceased client by name: Benzion Dunner.”


Former US staff face gag order

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2009

The United Synagogue has been challenged over the use of confidentiality agreements signed by staff who have lost their jobs.

Members of the organisation’s lay council were told at a meeting at the end of last week that nine redundancies had been made among a staff of around 100 in a cost-cutting budget.

But David Rose, council representative for South Hampstead Synagogue, quizzed US officers over confidentiality agreements that he said he had heard some departing staff had been asked to sign.


Eilat flights cut after fall in bookings

By Jan Shure, February 5, 2009

UK tourism to Eilat has hit its lowest point since the Iraq war following the withdrawal of weekly direct flights from London.

Longwood Holidays, the largest UK operator to the Israeli resort, has cancelled all but two individual direct flights to Ovda, following a sharp fall in new bookings in late December.

Tourism experts blamed the fall on the economic climate. But according to Pini Shani, head of the Overseas Department at Israel’s Tourism Ministry, the situation was “not helped” by Israel’s Gaza offensive.