Jonathan Kalmus

Liverpool's Harold House shutdown

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 13, 2010

A Liverpool community meeting on Sunday will hear the background to the closure of Harold House.

The decision to close the centre, the heart of communal activities since 1951, was made in the light of rocketing running costs of £100,000.

Sam Beilin, chairman of the charity which owns Harold House, says it was a drain on communal funds.

"There will be excellent facilities on the new King David campus with effect from next year. We hope the groups that are leaving Harold House will make use of that campus in the future"

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New president for Manchester Rep Council

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 13, 2010

Lucille Cohen has taken over the presidency of Manchester Jewish Representative Council. The former Zionist Central Council president from Altrincham wants to introduce a "new interactive spirit" so the community can better understood its work.

In her inaugural speech to Sunday's council meeting, Mrs Cohen, 54, said Manchester Jewry was facing "increasingly challenging times. The security of the community, our children and students on campus is paramount," she said, referring to violent protests against deputy Israeli envoy Talya Lador-Fresher at Manchester University.

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Elections result: Cheadle

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 7, 2010

The already thin margin of support for Liberal Democrat's Mark Hunter didn't slip at all in Cheadle despite bad press over anti-Israel letters he sent to Muslim voters.

He remains in position as MP in the south Manchester area with a majority of 3,000, beating off Tory Ben Jeffreys who was hoping to add to the two Conservative seats now in Greater Manchester.

One Conservative activist close to Mr Jeffreys simply said it had been a "disappointing night".

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Election results: Bury North

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 7, 2010

Jewish candidate Richard Baum saw some success in increasing the Liberal Democrat vote in Bury North, although in third place he was no competition for the only swing seat to the Tories in Greater Manchester.

Conservative David Nuttall defeated strong opponent Maryam Khan for Labour, daughter of Afzal Khan, a former Manchester mayor and co-chair of the Muslim-Jewish Forum.

Far behind Mr. Baum was the BNP's John Maude with 1,825 votes, although stronger BNP results are expected in the constituency's local elections.

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Family banned from Jewish area for racist attacks

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 6, 2010

A mother, her son and his then boyfriend have been banned for five years from Manchester's most Jewish area after carrying out "disgraceful" racist attacks in a three-day spree.

Shameem Parker, 44, and her son Dean, 22, were sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court last Thursday, together with Barry Clark-Millar, 52.

All three, who pleaded guilty to charges of racially aggravated offences, received Asbos banning them from entering the Broughton Park area.

Judge Jonathan Foster QC also jailed the two men for four months each, while Mrs Parker received a 12-month community order.

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UJIA chief defends sale of Manchester base

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 6, 2010

Manchester UJIA chairman Keith Black has defended its controversial decision to sell off its Mamlock House premises by pledging that money saved would go towards countering "terrifying" anti-Israel activity.

The impending move has left smaller charities which co-lease the dilapidated north Manchester building struggling to find alternative accommodation.

But Mr Black said this week that UJIA's hand was forced by a 10 per cent drop in income in a harsh economic climate.

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Altrincham and Sale West: Election 2010

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 29, 2010

Manchester Jewry's most affluent community sits on the edge of the only Tory seat in Greater Manchester, Altrincham and Sale West.

It is home to Bowdon, Hale and Sale, some of Manchester's wealthiest suburbs, each with its own synagogue. It has the largest Jewish community outside north Manchester, although it makes up only two per cent of the area's population.

Nevertheless, incumbent MP Graham Brady is chasing the Jewish vote, noting the "vibrant" community is "integrated into every walk of life, whether business, education, public service or voluntary organisations."

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Far right 'serious threat', Lib Dem candidate warns

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 29, 2010

Jewish libDem candidate Richard Baum has warned that the BNP could make significant gains in the Bury North constituency.

The area, a few miles from where Ivan Lewis and Michelle Wiseman are duelling for their seat, has around five per cent Muslims, and virtually no Jewish community.

Mr Baum says six BNP candidates standing in most of the constituency's local elections is worrying. A further four are standing in the Bury South consituency.

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Former Tory leads BNP push for Bury

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 29, 2010

For the first time the BNP have a parliamentary candidate standing for Bury South, home to two significantly Jewish areas.

This week, election leaflets for Jean Purdy, a former Conservative activist and senior NHS nurse, landed on doormats in Whitefield and Prestwich setting out three objectives: to stop immigration, pull out troops in Afghanistan and to raise the weekly pension.

A Conservative spokesperson sought to distance the party from Ms Purdy, saying: "We disown any association with her. Their values are not ours."

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King David High relaxes mobile phone ban

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 29, 2010

Manchester's King David High has relaxed a controversial ban on mobile phone use by pupils.

Since its introduction three weeks ago, infuriated parents of offenders have complained that the the six-week confiscation rule has jeopardised their children's safety by leaving them without a phone at evenings and weekends.

Confiscated phones have been returned and confiscation periods of one or a few days will again be the norm.

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Blunkett: Change needed to oust Islamic extremists

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 22, 2010

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for a radical change of strategy to oust extremist Islamic groups, and suggested the government's current strategy may have inadvertently supported them.

Speaking at the Board of Deputies on Sunday, Mr Blunkett openly criticised Prevent, the UK's anti-radicalisation strategy, which has spent much of £140m to fund activities of moderate Muslim groups.

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Cheadle: Election 2010

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 22, 2010

A Liberal Democrat MP has been criticised by Jewish constituents for courting Muslim voters by means of an anti-Israel letter which he sent to constituents who had Asian-sounding names.

Mark Hunter (right), who holds the seat in Cheadle, south Manchester, was confronted over the issue on Saturday in front of 300 Yeshurun Synagogue congregants, at hustings as part of the shul's Yom Ha'atzmaut Shabbaton. In the letter Mr Hunter had called for "an end to the blood-letting in Gaza", the end of UK arms sales to Israel, and an EU trading agreement boycott.

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Blackley and Broughton: Election 2010

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 22, 2010

Salford's Orthodox Jewish community, the most concentrated outside London, is facing serious inroads from the BNP.

The new cross-border constituency of Blackley and Broughton takes in the strongly Jewish areas of Higher Crumpsall and Broughton Park, the latter a wealthy pocket of large houses. Nearby, however, cramped council estates in Kersal and the UK's once most deprived area of Harpurhey are fostering far-right support.

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More than 800 celebrate Israeli in Manchester

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 22, 2010

Eight hundred people turned out for the Manchester community's Yom Ha'atzmaut party at the Sheridan Suite in the north of the city on Tuesday.

In the absence of Israeli entertainers because of the air travel disruption, guitarist and Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute student Sruli Portnoy, 19, son of the Hale community's Rabbi Joel Portnoy, was the musical headliner.

"They pulled me in about three hours before the event," he said. Ironically, Mr Portnoy was available as he had been unable to get a flight out of England.

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Firm sued dead woman daughter's rent

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 22, 2010

A property firm that sued a dead Jewish woman over rent for her daughter's student accommodation has apologised and withdrawn its legal action.

The Manchester family of Susan Ellis, who died of leukaemia in January, were outraged when Leeds property firm Parklane pursued a rent claim for a flat Victoria Ellis never occupied. Ms Ellis had dropped out of university to nurse her dying mother. But after last week's JC report and other media coverage, Parklane agreed to drop the claim for £2,200 and donate the same amount to Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

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Bury: Election 2010

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 15, 2010

At least one of Bury South's three main Israel-friendly candidates may have been thought of as a "tentacle" in recent weeks.

But the more critical voting factor for its historically Jewish MPs in a general election is the trend to swing the pendulum of power towards whoever stands for the nationally winning party.

Labour MP Ivan Lewis has held the seat since 1997. His most recent Middle East responsibilities for the Foreign Office and public support of Israel have cemented his reputation with Jewish voters.

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Health scare shuts Manchester care home

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 15, 2010

Heathlands Village care home in north Manchester was closed to visitors this week after a stomach bug outbreak among residents.

The home shut its doors from Monday as part of a medical protocol to prevent the illness spreading. Karen Phillips, chief executive of the Federation of Jewish Services, which administers Heathlands, said only a small number of residents had been infected.

"We've always had policy in place for dealing with any infection. With 230 residents and a maximum of 500 people on site altogether, it's far better to act with caution."

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Property firm sues dead woman over student flat

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 15, 2010

A student property company has outraged the family of a woman who died of leukaemia by pursuing a rent claim over a flat her daughter never occupied.

"Susan Ellis (deceased)" was the name on a writ for over £2,000 from Leeds firm Parklane. Mrs Ellis, from Whitefield in Manchester, died in January.

She was the guarantor on the flat for her daughter Victoria, who never moved in, having dropped out before her final year at Leeds Metropolitan University to become her mother's carer.

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Manchester Mamlock House to close

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 15, 2010

Mamlock House is to close in December after almost 50 years as a base for Zionist organisations in Manchester.

UJIA is the landlord of the property, which also houses offices of JNF, the Zionist Central Council, Wizo, Magen David Adom, the Israel Information Centre and the Jewish Agency.

The news was broken to users on Wednesday by UJIA chairman Keith Black, who said the outdated building had become too expensive to maintain or refurbish.

Named after the Zionist family who donated it, Mamlock House has been a focal point of Jewish life since 1962.

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Parents call for end to King David school phones ban

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 15, 2010

A ban on mobile phone use by Manchester King David High pupils has brought a backlash from parents whose children's phones were confiscated for six weeks.

Parents were sent a letter warning of the consequences if pupils were seen with a phone outside of lunch break, even if they were not using it.

Eight handsets were confiscated on the first two days of enforcement.

One mother said pupils' safety could be jeopardised if parents could not contact them after school. Her 15-year-old son had fallen foul of the rules by receiving a text message.

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