UK news

Film Festival under fire over Israel cash snub

By Leon Symons, June 4, 2009

The Edinburgh International Film Festival has come under increasing criticism for its decision to reject a donation from Israel.

Film director Gary Sinyor and the UK Jewish Film Festival have both attacked the EIFF for returning £300 given by the embassy in London to enable Israeli director Tali Shalom Ezer to attend the festival.

And one of Britain’s most distinguished producers, John Heyman, this week released a bitter letter he wrote to the festival’s chairman, Iain Smith, saying the festival’s actions had “endorsed bigotry”.


The drugs den next door

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2009

A cannabis factory capable of producing £800,000 worth of drugs a year has been uncovered at the heart of the north London community.

Around 1,000 plants were discovered during a police raid at a five-bedroom house in Downage, Hendon, last Friday morning. The road is home to dozens of Jewish families and properties regularly sell for more than £1 million.

It was the largest-ever find by officers in the borough of Barnet.

Two weeks ago officers uncovered 600 plants at a house in Mill Hill, and another raid took place in Edgware two months ago.


Downfall of Moshe’s mafia

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2009

Three Israelis, one of whom is 81 years old, have been convicted of running one of the biggest cannabis-smuggling operations ever intercepted by British police.

Grandfather Moshe Kedar, Yehezkel Srebro, 57, and 67-year-old Mordechai Hersh, were behind an elaborate plot to bring more than 12 tonnes of the drug, with a street value of £36 million, into the country using a tugboat.


Orthodox seek visa law change

By Simon Rocker, June 3, 2009

The Government is looking at proposals to offset new visa laws which have hit young strictly Orthodox Jews who want to marry partners from abroad.

The age for a spouse being granted permission to live in Britain was raised last November from 18 to 21 in a move designed mainly to combat forced marriages among the Asian community.

But representatives of the Charedi community, whose members traditionally marry young, say that this is stopping young people from Israel or the US coming to marry in the UK.


Fears that Bill may force shuls to hire non-Jews

By Simon Rocker, June 3, 2009

The Board of Deputies is studying the implications of the new Equality Bill amid concerns that it could become harder for religious organisations to restrict jobs to members of their own faith.

Jon Benjamin, the Board’s chief executive, said he was consulting heads of other Jewish organisations about the proposed legislation, which received a second Commons reading last month.


Shechita meets Halal

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2009

A shechita expert is to advise a Muslim group that monitors restaurants and butchers for compliance with halal slaughtering practices.

Chanoch Kesselman, executive co-ordinator of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, will provide the Halal Monitoring Committee with information on pre-stunning animals.

Mr Kesselman said the link-up was an example of how different faiths could work together.


‘Brilliant’ civil servant hit by train

By James Martin, June 3, 2009

The Newcastle Jewish community is mourning the loss of a “brilliant, kind and unassuming young man”, after the death of 32-year-old Adam Rothapel last Tuesday.

Mr Rothapel, private secretary to Minister of Justice Bridget Prentice, died after being hit by a train at Finchley Road station in London.

Mr Rothapel, who lived in West Hampstead, was due to marry Sam Baden, his Australian-born fiancée, in August. He leaves behind his mother, Hilary.


Laura Pulver’s making Robin a merry man

By Alex Kasriel, June 3, 2009

Fans of the BBC tea-time drama Robin Hood will have been keenly watching the new series as fresh female villain Isabella, sister to the evil Sir Guy of Gisborne, came crashing in to the medieval romp as Robin’s latest love interest.


Academics pass boycott motion

May 28, 2009

Members of the University and College Union defied a warning from their leadership and passed a motion in support of boycotting Israel at their annual congress in Bournemouth.

They voted to support “the Palestinian call for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign”.

But the union’s executive had warned that it would be declared null and void following legal advice that the resolution would be unlawful because “it is likely to be viewed… as a call to boycott Israeli academic institutions”.


The last hurrah

By Leon Symons, May 27, 2009

A group of World War II evacuees who spent the war at the same school will be holding a reunion on September 1 — and it could be the last time they meet.

The group, who were at Dame Alice Owen boys’ school in Islington, were evacuated on September 1, 1939, two days before Britain declared war on Germany.

They were taken to the town of Bedford and Bedford Modern School, where they have held a reunion on that day every decade since 1979.

One of the organisers, David Bernstein, who lives in Croydon, has helped write a book about the group, most of whom are now in their 80s.