UK news

Shul door is draped with bacon

By Marcus Dysch, June 25, 2009

Bacon rashers were found wrapped round the door handles of a synagogue as congregants arrived for a Shabbat service last weekend.

Police were called to Sinai Synagogue in Leeds on Saturday morning. They also found meat stuffed through the key hole.

Sinai is the main Reform synagogue in Leeds and has around 800 members.

Rabbi Ian Morris said: “In the scheme of things it’s almost verging on the humorous. When people are setting out to target the Jewish community it’s a shame, but on the scale of things people do these days it really does not rate terribly highly.

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Radical brain surgery cures epileptic

By Marcus Dysch, June 25, 2009

A Jewish charity worker has had sections of her brain removed during a 12-hour operation to cure her of severe epilepsy.

Emma Kon, a member of Finchley Reform Synagogue, suffered from daily seizures that left her unable to work.

But since undergoing the radical surgery last year, she has gone months without a fit, allowing her to volunteer with Jewish Care and help Alzheimer’s and MS sufferers.

The 25-year-old, from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, contracted viral encephalitis at the age of 17 and was left in a coma for three weeks.

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Women hit out at shul inequality

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2009

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Jewish women in Britain are frustrated at being denied equality in running Orthodox synagogues and concerned that community institutions are failing to keep pace with changes in family make-up, according to a new report.

It highlights a “reality gap” between Jewish leaders’ assumptions and modern Jewish living as well as “inconsistent and anachronistic” attitudes over women’s participation in synagogues.

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Jewish trusts top UK charities list

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2009

More than a fifth of the 100 top-spending family trusts in Britain are of Jewish origin, according to a new study published this week.

The research, Family Foundation Philanthropy 2009, compares the philanthropic scene in four countries — the UK, the US, Italy and Germany — and is sponsored by the Pears Foundation, which itself appears at number 41 on the UK list with grants of £4.4 million in 2007.

Its author, Cathy Pharoah, of London’s Cass Business School, notes that Jewish trusts have “particularly helped to shape the UK family foundation world”.

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George Galloway rapped by Ofcom for radio show

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2009

George Galloway, the Respect MP, breached guidelines on impartiality when he encouraged listeners to demonstrate against Israel on his Talksport radio show, the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has found.

It said his programme had moved away “from legitimate debate and started to campaign on a major matter of controversy” by calling on people to join protests against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

At one point, Mr Galloway, who presents a twice-weekly evening phone-in at the station on topical issues, said: “Stand up, stand up against the great crime that took place in Gaza today.”

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Jonah has a spell in limelight

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

A Jewish spelling champion has put his achievement in winning a national schools competition down to “a lot of hard work” and the support of his family.

Twelve-year-old Jonah Surkes, of Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, was the highest points scorer in a three-pupil spelling team that won the inaugural Times Spelling Bee championship in Leicester Square on Tuesday, defeating nine other schools in the final.

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Israel’s UK voice: worst job in world?

By Marcus Dysch, June 25, 2009

The hostility of the British media is hampering the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s attempts to appoint a new press spokesman to its London embassy, the JC understands.

Lior Ben Dor left his role last week, but a replacement is yet to be found.

At least one non-diplomat is known to have been approached to take on the job, but turned it down.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “It is not a case of London being a job that nobody wants, but everyone knows it is a tough job. That does not mean no one wants to do it.”

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‘Rambo’ John Bercow, JSoc and his far-right links

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2009

Half a lifetime ago, two furious Jewish students wrote to the JC to complain about John Bercow, now the new Speaker of the House of Commons.

In 1986, Mr Bercow, then 23, was the ambitious new chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, sporting a Rambo T-shirt and pursuing, the JC said, “a hard-line aggressive policy with the accent on machismo”.

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Stop boycotting, Miliband tells unions

By Leon Symons, June 25, 2009

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has expressed dismay that Israel boycotts are being discussed by trade union congresses and conferences.

He said this week: “Ivan Lewis, minister of state responsible for the Middle East, is meeting representatives of leading British unions in order to make clear the government’s firm belief that calls for boycotts of Israel cannot and do not contribute to peace.

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Picture special: an unorthodox view of Stamford Hill

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2009

The strictly Orthodox community of London’s Stamford Hill generally prefers to guard its privacy. But now a unique window into this thriving society has been opened by a gifted photographer — and the internet.

Over the past few months, hundreds of David Braun’s pictures have appeared on the photo-sharing website Flickr. He has been able to gain unique access to the community because he lives there, the scion of a Satmar Chasidic family and one of eight siblings.

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