East End

Rabbi faces second discipline hearing

By Simon Rocker, August 13, 2009

Sephardi leaders have been accused of victimising the rabbi of Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks, after demanding he face a second disciplinary hearing in a fortnight.

Rabbi Natan Asmoucha, who was suspended three weeks ago, was issued with a final warning by the mahamad (executive) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation over his involvement last month in a march against high bank interest rates.

But members of Bevis Marks are in uproar after learning that the mahamad had extended his suspension on Friday and made new allegations of gross misconduct against him.


Shul suspends its rabbi ‘for usury protest’

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2009

The rabbi of Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks in the East End of London, has been suspended over his participation in a protest against banks charging high interest rates.

Rabbi Natan Asmoucha, who arrived from Zimbabwe just a year and a half ago, faced allegations of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing on Monday convened by the mahamad (executive) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.

But angry congregants have attacked the executive’s action, claiming it was merely a pretext to carry out a previous proposal to make the rabbi redundant.


You’re furred: Alan Sugar becomes a Lord

By Candice Krieger, July 23, 2009

Sir Alan Sugar took his seat in the House of Lords this week, as Lord Sugar of Clapton in the Borough of Hackney.

He was named as a member of the Upper House by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last month, and will now operate as an “enterprise czar” for the government.

Why Clapton? Lord Sugar, 62, said: “I struck my first business deals on the streets of Clapton as a 12-year-old boy by collecting lemonade bottles for the one penny deposits, and sitting on the main road asking for a penny for the guy.


Members’ fury over quit order

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2009

Hackney Synagogue members are furious that they were given less than a month’s notice to stop using their Grade II listed shul.

Louis Cohen, the warden of the north London congregation, said they were informed by the United Synagogue only last week that the Victorian building in Brenthouse Road was being sold at the end of the month.

After tomorrow week, the community have permission from the new owners to hold services downstairs in the hall of the building for a year.


Bevis Marks in talks over rabbi's exit

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2009

Members of Bevis Marks Synagogue in east London say that the redundancy process involving their rabbi has been suspended pending a meeting on Monday with the mahamad (executive) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.

Congregants protested after learning of the possible loss of Rabbi Natan Asmoucha, who arrived from Zimbabwe last year to become rabbi of Britain’s oldest shul. Some feared the proposed redundancy could be a prelude to closing the place of worship.


School deputy head suspended

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

The Simon Marks Jewish Primary governors have confirmed the suspension of deputy head Norma Blair pending an investigation into allegations of serious misconduct.

Eighty parents at a meeting at the Stoke Newington school on Tuesday night were told by governors’ chair Peter Kessler that Mrs Blair had been suspended and that the matter was being investigated by the Learning Trust, which runs Hackney schools.


Sandys Row Synagogue wins lottery

May 14, 2009

The survival of one of Britain’s oldest synagogue buildings has been assured with an award of over £250,000 from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sandys Row Synagogue in London’s East End will use the money for essential repairs to its Grade II listed building — “a little known architectural gem in the heart of Spitalfields,” according to conservation architect Anthony Walker, who led the shul’s advisory team.


Shabbat services are back at East End shul

By Isabel Janner, May 7, 2009

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue in London’s East End has held its first Shabbat service in 18 months as it fights for its future.

The 110-year-old shul has been under threat of closure because of the dwindling local Jewish population.

But president Raymond Singer was heartened by the attendance of 20 men and eight women at the weekend service.

“There are four other shuls in the East End, all fighting for a congregation, and it is survival of the fittest,” Mr Singer said.


Hackney listing threatens sale

By Jay Grenby, February 18, 2009

English Heritage’s award of Grade II listed status to the historic Hackney Synagogue building has jeopardised the United Synagogue’s plan to sell the site.

The US — which opposed the listing — had put the 112-year-old Brenthouse Road property on the market, highlighting the redevelopment potential. The hope was that a sale would fund the congregation’s relocation.

It is understood that a potential buyer has asked for time to reconsider, given that the listing, recognising architectural and historic interest, could scupper any plans for demolition.


Childrens club provider quits Hackney school

By Craig Silver, August 8, 2008

Hackney's Simon Marks Primary has parted company with its after-school club provider after a breakdown in relations.

Mapalim said it had "no choice" but to end its involvement after clashes with acting head Norma Blair-Clayden.