James Martin

Israel envoy lauds Christian groups

By James Martin, July 23, 2009

Israeli ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor has thanked Israel’s Christian friends for their “constant support of the state of Israel in difficult times”.

In a unique event at the ambassador’s residence this week, Mr Prosor told more than 50 representatives of British Christian groups: “At a time when our enemies are getting louder in the UK, we truly appreciate the backing from another religious group.”

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Orthodox tenants housing let down

By James Martin, July 16, 2009

An affordable housing scheme for Orthodox families in Stamford Hill is struggling to fill all its units because Hackney Council has failed to find “suitable” families as tenants.

Jewish housing association the Industrial Dwellings Society (IDS) purchased 20 units from Taylor Wimpey at Latham’s Yard in Upper Clapton in 2002, with the support of a £3 million Housing Corporation grant. The first 15 were occupied at the start of June.

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West London rabbi hits the jackpot in Vegas

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

A London Reform minister believes his upcoming move to Las Vegas is no gamble, rather the “opportunity of a lifetime”.
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, 35, is leaving the West London Synagogue to take up a post next month with the Temple Sinai congregation in Summerlin, 25 minutes by car from the centre of the world’s gaming capital.

“I got the offer in April and decided it was a fantastic opportunity to be able to develop a community there,” he said.

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UJIA on the move

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

UJIA staff have moved into new premises in Camden, ending a 30-year residency at Balfour House.

The charity announced a year ago that it was selling its North Finchley premises. Its 66 employees are now ensconced in “more modern and better positioned offices”, explained communications director Debbie Joseph.

She added that the open-plan 9,145 sq ft premises, overlooking Camden Lock, would save UJIA “£500,000 over the next five years.

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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.

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Astronaut's tales of space- and bagels

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

A Nasa astronaut made a happy landing in Kenton where his tales of space travel enthralled the 650 pupils at the Sobell Sinai Primary.

Greg Chamitoff served a six-month tour of duty on the International Space Station last year, working alongside two Russians. The 46-year-old Texan is linked to Sinai through his cousin Karen Diamond, whose two children are pupils.

Mrs Diamond and her husband Julian helped to organise this week’s visit, having previously arranged a live satellite link-up between pupils and Mr Chamitoff during his space mission in September.

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Professor: diaspora in danger

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

Diaspora Jews are under increasing threat from assimilation due to a lack of “mission causes”, according to an international expert on Jewish history.

Brandeis University’s Professor Jonathan Sarna made the statement while delivering the first William Frankel memorial lecture last week, in memory of the former JC editor and chairman, who died last April.

Professor Sarna told the 100-strong Institute for Jewish Policy Research audience that the recession would reduce communal expenditure, “which would weaken links to Jewish identity for a generation of youngsters”.

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One Big Friday Night is blessed

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

The Jewish community displayed its propensity for hospitality as over 200 homes played host to Friday night dinners with a difference.

Around 2,000 people attended parties throughout the UK last weekend, in aid of the inaugural Jewish Care One Big Friday Night.

The dinners, which are expected to raise over £20,000, involved people hosting meals for family and friends, in a bid to raise awareness of the social care charity. Guests being asked not to bring gifts, but instead to make donations to Jewish Care.

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Tory leader opens new Norwood unit

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

David Cameron praised Norwood’s Ravenswood Village as “a fabulous demonstration of social responsibility in action” as he officially opened a new residential building at the Berkshire facility, which is providing specialist support for adults with severe autism.

Eighty guests watched the Tory leader unveil a plaque at the £2.4 million Tager Centre. They included major donors Romie Tager and his sister Helen Tager-Flusberg, who spoke about their family ties to Ravenswood, which was co-founded by their late parents.

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Shul wants to share its site with other faiths

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue wants to enter into a shared usage agreement with another faith group, and later sell its 7,000 sq ft premises.

Alan Solomon, the shul’s immediate past chairman, said the 450-member community has decided to “explore the possibility of entering into an arrangement with another faith group for shared usage with a view to an eventual sale sometime in the future”.

The Preston Road property, which is being advertised in Harrow by estate agents Baker Pearce, is valued at £2.5 million and includes half-an-acre of land.

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Consent for Orthodox Barnet school

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

An Orthodox Jewish primary school has received long-awaited planning permission from Barnet Council.

Beis Soroh Schneirer Girls’ Primary was granted planning consent after it demonstrated that there were no alternative sites available for the school and that it provided a good environment for the girls’ education.

The 230-pupil school, which is located in a former industrial warehouse in West Hendon, had been operating without planning permission since it moved from its previous premises at Finchley Synagogue in 2005.

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Grant supports charity’s goals in UK

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant told the story of his father’s survival of the Holocaust at the launch of the UK branch of an Israeli charity.

Meir Panim supports Israelis living in poverty, including Holocaust survivors.

Mr Grant, who coached Chelsea to last year’s Champions League final, discussed his father Meir Granat’s survival in Siberia, where he was exiled for three years during the Holocaust.

“I will never forget him screaming during the night,” said Mr Grant, who was told of his father’s story when he was 15.

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Jeremiah Duggan parents demand new probe

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

The German government has been asked to open an investigation into the workings of the far-right LaRouche group.

Jeremiah Duggan was found dead on a highway in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 2003, while attending a LaRouche youth event.

The student’s parents have presented the German Embassy in London with a dossier detailing the group’s antisemitic links.

This week, Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, joined Erica and Hugo Duggan at a meeting at the embassy with Germany’s deputy ambassador, Dr Eckard Lubkemier.

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Hackney mumps outbreak

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

A mumps outbreak within Stamford Hill’s Orthodox community has prompted the local health authority to urge parents to ensure their children have received the MMR vaccine.

The City and Hackney Primary Care Trust has offered to send immunisation teams to five Orthodox Jewish schools in north Hackney following outbreaks in two Orthodox boys’ primary schools in the area over the past few weeks. One of the schools is said to be the Machzikei Hadath in Clapton, but the care trust could not confirm this.

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Recession-hit UK families plead for Israel tour grants

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

One-in-five families planning to send their children on Reform Judaism Israel tours and UK summer camps are applying for bursaries as the credit crunch bites.

Such is the demand for financial assistance that the Movement for Reform Judaism has launched an appeal to raise £10,000 for additional financial assistance.

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Fame? We step to another beat

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

As a teenager, Nick Ingram knew Amy Winehouse. Growing up in the same part of north London, they performed together in shows for the local Jewish youth group. So it is entirely appropriate that Ingram’s first foray into the world of pop should be about the ravaging effects of fame.

The 26-year-old musician from Southgate is one half of The Yeah You’s, tipped to be the big band of the summer. He and 31-year-old Mike Kintish, from Broughton Park in Manchester, have just released their debut single, 15 Minutes, which is receiving rave reviews from, among others, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles.

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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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Torture expert claims Israeli doctors were ‘complicit’

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

Israel’s secret services are operating in a “black hole” which allows torture to go unchecked, according to a leading expert on torture in Israel.

Dr Ishai Menuchin, executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), says his organisation has recorded 600 complaints about treatment received during General Security Service interrogations since 2001.

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Camp Simcha relocates

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

Children suffering from life-threatening illnesses will have a place to relax as a charity moved into its new offices.

Camp Simcha, whose volunteers provide support for children with cancer and other serious conditions and their families, has been given use of a four-bedroom house in Hendon which will act as a base for the charity and will offer facilities for around 300 youngsters.

“The House”, unveiled on Sunday after a year of renovations, will include a lounge and an internet café.

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Shenley welcomes ‘green’ rabbi

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

Levy as minister of Shenley United Jewish Community saw members looking back with sadness, as they recalled the tragic and premature death two years ago of their previous minister, Rabbi Shmuli Kass, and forwards with hope to the 135-family strong community gaining a permanent home of its own.

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