Cathy Forman

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”.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


£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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


Step towards school move

By Cathy Forman, April 30, 2009

Plans to move Ilford Jewish Primary School to a new building next to King Solomon High in Barkingside advanced this week.

A Redbridge Council cabinet committee meeting on Tuesday recommended that council officers be given permission to negotiate with the primary school owners, a United Synagogue trust, to buy the IJPS site.


Reaching out to Redbridge

By Cathy Forman, March 27, 2009

Should the Redbridge community be flattered or embarressed by Chabad’s decisiion to open a kosher grocery shop in Gants Hill in the run-up to Pesach?
On the one hand, it’s great that the organisation has noticed that a community of some 20,000 souls is having to rely on a handful of kosher butchers and bakers and local mainstream supermarkets for its kosher grocery needs.


Mersey bleats over collapse of building plan

By Cathy Forman, March 26, 2009

Members of Liverpool’s Childwall Synagogue have voiced dismay at the shelving of plans for a new complex.

Reporting to its annual meeting on Monday, chairman Norman Goldstone said the collapse of plans to relocate the Stapely care home to the rear of the shul would put plans for the complex “on hold for a few years”.

Childwall would have received £2 million from the £3.5 million sale of the Stapely site, which was scuppered by the economic downturn. The money would have funded a building incorporating offices, kitchens and a mikveh.


King David criticised by Ombudsman

By Cathy Forman, March 19, 2009

Liverpool’s King David Primary has been criticised by a Local Government Ombudsman for inadequately responding to a critical report on an admissions appeal complaint.

The Ombudsman, Anne Seex, reported in January 2008 that one of the school’s admission criteria was not “objective and clear”. It could not fully explain how it selected the 21 applicants from the 54 who applied under the same category as the complainant. The non-Jewish parent had not been given the reasons for his daughter being refused a King David place in 2006, so was unable to prepare for a second appeal.


£4m Liverpool home is shelved

By Cathy Forman, March 12, 2009

Efforts to relocate Liverpool’s Stapely care home to the Childwall Synagogue site have fallen victim to the credit crunch.

A £3.5 million sale had been agreed for the 66-bed residential home in Sefton Park and planning permission granted for its redevelopment into flats. But with the completion date looming, the purchaser could not come up with the money.

The intention had been to put the proceeds towards the building of a £4 million three-storey care home in the car park at the rear of the shul.


Rare showing on museum 25th

By Cathy Forman, March 5, 2009

Manchester Jewish Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary by staging an exhibition of artefacts not generally shown to visitors.

Explained Alexandra Grime, curator of the Cheetham Hill museum: “We have asked previous curators, volunteers and local historians to choose their favourite item from the extensive collection of objects that we hold. This gives visitors the opportunity to see items that are usually in storage.”


Windfall for listed building

By Cathy Forman, March 5, 2009

London’s New West End Synagogue is to receive £108,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for urgent repairs to a leaking roof in its Grade I listed property.

“It is a special synagogue,” said Cindy Molenaar, business manager at the London region of English Heritage. “The interior is stunning and it is important to avoid any damage to it.”

Gutters and downpipes also need replacing at the Bayswater shul, which was built in 1879 and was accorded Grade 1 listed status in 2007. The cost of the repair work will be £250,000 and the balance will come from synagogue funds.


Birmingham school funding assured

By Cathy Forman, February 12, 2009

Birmingham Hebrew Congregation has refuted a claim that it will be withdrawing funding from the Jewish studies department of the city’s King David Primary.

The claim was made in a letter to the Birmingham Jewish Recorder by King David governors’ chair Dr Michael Wolffe, who warned that such a move would leave insufficient funds to meet the salaries of the two Jewish studies teachers.

An editorial about the issue in the Recorder had caused further disquiet.