Cathy Forman

Borehamwood girl, 5, dies

By Cathy Forman, March 25, 2010

The funeral of a five-year-old Borehamwood girl who died suddenly last week was held at Bushey cemetery on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Hertfordshire Coroners office opened and adjourned an inquest into the death of Hanna Collins.

Former Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue minister Rabbi Alan Plancey, who officiated at the funeral, said Hanna's parents, Claudia and Andrew, were "devastated. They are a loving and caring couple. We have to give them every support we can."

Hanna also had a twin and an elder sister.

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Blackpool synagogue merger talks fail

By Cathy Forman, March 4, 2010

Talks to bring Blackpool's two dwindling congregations under one roof have broken down.

Meetings were held over a 12 month period between the town's Orthodox and Reform synagogues with a view to both operating from the Reform shul's building in Raikes Parade. The United Hebrew Congregation's Grade II listed building is 100 yards away in Leamington Road.

"We would like it to happen if it can come about," said Reform president Leon Tax.

"We want to find some way of bringing the two communities together." The Reform shul "is larger than we need and maintenance is an issue".

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Bournemouth breakaway group change name

By Cathy Forman, February 11, 2010

The breakaway group from Bournemouth Reform Synagogue has changed its name.

Originally known as the Southern Reform Community, it is now called the Southern Jewish Community.

“Our name has had to be changed to comply with a request from the Movement for Reform Judaism,” explained group member David Sheaf. “They felt that having ‘Reform’ in our name might lead people to think we are already affiliated. This we considered a reasonable request.” However, the group still hoped to affiliate to Reform.

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Birmingham burial fees row eased

By Cathy Forman, February 11, 2010

Meetings were held this week in an effort to resolve a long-running dispute over burial fees between Birmingham’s two Orthodox synagogues.

On Wednesday evening the shul councils of Birmingham Hebrew Congregation (Singers Hill) and Central Synagogue met separately to discuss plans for a solution.

Central leaders have been enraged by steep rises in burial fees and maintenance charges from Singers Hill, which looks after the Witton and Brandwood End cemeteries on behalf of the community.

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Leeds youth club leader honoured by Gordon Brown

By Cathy Forman, February 4, 2010

Youth club leader Raina Sheaf was among community heroes hosted by Gordon Brown at a 10 Downing Street reception.

Leeds North-East MP Fabian Hamilton nominated Mrs Sheaf, chief executive of local club the Zone, as someone “widely respected in the Jewish community”.

She was “thrilled to be invited. It was good to realise that Mr Hamilton values what I do at the Zone.”

Mrs Sheaf, 43, travelled to London with Mr Hamilton’s other nomination, Abid Hussain, owner of a local chain of stores and an active supporter of the Leeds Islamic Centre.

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North Tyneside: 100 candles for Holocaust Memorial

By Cathy Forman, January 28, 2010

A ceremony in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides took place at North Tyneside's Council Chamber. The event, hosted by the chairman of North Tyneside Council, Councillor Michael Huscroft, Mayor Councillor Linda Arkley and the borough's Holocaust Memorial Committee, culminated in the lighting of 100 candles.

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Harry Potter star leads Mersey farewells

By Cathy Forman, December 9, 2009

Actor Jason Isaacs has led the tributes to his uncle Lennie Isaacs, the JC’s Liverpool correspondent for 15 years, who died last week aged 70.

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Breakaway planning

By Cathy Forman, December 3, 2009

The breakaway group from Bournemouth Reform Synagogue has agreed a framework for its future direction.
From January, the Southern Reform Community will be running alternate weekly Shabbat morning and evening services in homes of supporters. “We are going to see how it goes,” said Janet Gee, a member of the breakaway group and a former Bournemouth Reform chair.

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Reconciled in Lincoln

By Cathy Forman, October 22, 2009

The unveiling of a plaque at Lincoln Cathedral commemorates the blood libel of 1255, when 18 Lincoln Jews were hanged having been falsely accused of the ritual murder of a local boy.

Kaddish for the hanged Jews was also recited at a service at the shrine of Little Hugh, who was venerated as a saint. The wording on the plaque records that when the boy’s tomb was opened in 1791, the body bore no signs of mutilation.

The 200 people at the service were addressed by Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich on “A Jewish view of Jesus”.

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Breakaway group finds Southern comfort

By Cathy Forman, October 8, 2009

The breakaway group from Bournemouth Reform Synagogue has given itself a title — the Southern Reform Community.

Over 80 people supported the group’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the local Carrington Hotel. “The atmosphere was amazing,” reported former Bournemouth Reform officer Melanie Smith. “Many agreed it was the best set of High Holy-Day services they had attended for years.”

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Bournemouth Reform faces breakaway

By Cathy Forman, September 10, 2009

Bournemouth Reform Synagogue is holding a special general meeting on Sunday in an effort to stave off the threat of a breakaway group within the 500-strong community.

Disaffected members cite concern at the shul’s financial management, infighting among the synagogue council and unhappiness with minister, Rabbi Neal Amswych. It is claimed that 70 people are prepared to support alternative High Holy-Day services at the town’s Carrington House Hotel for members who do not want to attend the synagogue.

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Wiping the slate clean on Mersey

By Cathy Forman, August 20, 2009

A fundraising drive to repair the roof at Liverpool’s Old Hebrew Congregation has got off to a flying start.
As a condition of a £160,000 English Heritage grant in the spring, members of the Grade I listed Victorian synagogue had to raise a further £20,000.
Synagogue project director Alaster Burman then came up with the idea of bringing in the money by the sale of 2,000 slates at £10 apiece.

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Secret £1.2m donor saves four schools

By Cathy Forman, July 30, 2009

An anonymous £1.2 million donation from a London trust will save four Israeli schools from closure.
The money has been given to the British Friends of Shuvu, supporting a religious schools network.

Falling donations from the UK and America had put the future of six schools in jeopardy. The pledge from the London trust will preserve the places of over 1,000 students but Shuvu schools in Nahariya and Ashkelon still face closure.

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£1m plan is not Brum and dusted

By Cathy Forman, July 30, 2009

A proposed £1 million-plus deal with a local housing association to redevelop Birmingham Central Synagogue’s Edgbaston premises has fallen through.

The shul’s 200 members had been due to be asked at the AGM to approve plans to sell two-thirds of the site to Birmingham-based housing association Optima. However, synagogue president Geoffrey Clements wrote to them explaining that Optima had been unable to secure government funding for the project.

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Minister hails Leeds sheltered housing

By Cathy Forman, July 23, 2009

Housing Minister John Healey made a fact-finding trip to Leeds Jewish Housing Association last Friday.

The visit was arranged at short notice after the newly-appointed minister and Wentworth, south Yorkshire, MP had asked to see an exemplar sheltered housing scheme. LJHA’s Skyte House was recommended to him by Naz Parkar, head of investment for the Homes and Communities Agency in Leeds.

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Barmitzvah girl is big news in Ballina

By Cathy Forman, July 9, 2009

mma Guihen celebrated what is believed to be the first batmitzvah on Ireland’s West Coast in the company of 130 mostly non-Jewish guests.

The batmitzvah girl lives with her mother Leah and three siblings in Ballina, a County Mayo town over 150 miles from the Dublin Jewish community. She said the ceremony was a “chance to do something connected to my Judaism”. But the family’s isolation from Jewish life meant they had to make their own preparations.

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Survivors recall Lingfield

By Cathy Forman, July 2, 2009

Child survivors of the Holocaust were reunited at the Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire to celebrate an exhibition based on their experiences.

“The Journey” recalls the experiences of survivors of Nazi camps who, on their arrival in Britain in 1945, were housed at an orphanage in Lingfield, Surrey.

Theresienstadt survivor Joanna Millan, who was three when she arrived in Britain, said: “Lingfield gave us the opportunity to rebuild our lives.”

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Sunderland’s listed shul is up for sale

By Cathy Forman, June 25, 2009

The Sunderland Synagogue building has been put up for sale, three years after the congregation disbanded.

Its owners, the Shlomo Memorial Fund, purchased the Grade II listed building in 2000 with the intention that the Jewish community would use it for as long as possible. The final Shabbat service was held in March 2006.

It had been hoped that the Gateshead community would also utilise the premises, but no interest had been expressed.

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Liverpool fills rabbinical void

By Cathy Forman, May 27, 2009

Swiss-born Israeli Mani Pollak, 28, is to fill the longstanding rabbinical vacancy at Liverpool’s Allerton Hebrew Congregation in September.

Having recently completed his rabbinical training, the minister hopes to graduate with a social work degree this summer from the Hebrew University. His American-born wife Yaffa, also 28, holds a degree in logistics and economics from Bar-Ilan University and has youth leadership experience in Israel and Ukraine. They have two young children and are expecting another child in August.

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Class act for Ivrit lessons

By Cathy Forman, May 7, 2009

Clore Tikva Primary in Redbridge this week formally launched a new programme of Ivrit teaching commissioned by Leo Baeck College.

The curriculum has been piloted since September, when Ivrit classes for pupils were reduced from three to two per week because of a fall in parental contributions at the voluntary-aided school. Clore Tikva’s Hebrew co-ordinator Dalia Wittenberg has developed the UJIA-funded programme.

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