James Martin



The 210 bus must go that extra mile

By James Martin, May 28, 2009

Orthodox residents in Golders Green and Stamford Hill desperately want a direct bus service between the respective areas, but the capital’s transport operator, Transport for London, is unlikely to listen to them.

A four-month survey by transport watchdog London TravelWatch, which was published on Tuesday, shows there is heavy demand for either an extension to the current 210 bus route, which runs between Brent Cross and Finsbury Park, or a new route.

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Lofty ambition to clarify extension rules

By James Martin, Haringey, May 28, 2009

Haringey’s strictly Orthodox community is being consulted over new guidelines clarifying the council’s position on loft extensions.

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Sea mystery as passenger claims ‘we beat pirates’

By James Martin, May 27, 2009

A London woman who was on a cruise ship attacked by Somali pirates said this week that “the heroic efforts of passengers in fending them off has been overlooked”.

Frances Pallas was a week into a three-week cruise, which ran from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the MSC Melody was attacked by pirates last month.

Mrs Pallas disputes the claim of the ship’s owners, MSC Cruises, that pirates were thwarted by Israeli security guards, who “acted immediately and successfully” in response to an attempted hijack.

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Rabbi blasts HSA as complaints grow

By James Martin, May 27, 2009

A leading member of Stamford Hill’s strictly Orthodox community, Rabbi Avraham Pinter, has accused the medical insurer HSA of “discrimination”.

Last week the JC revealed that hundreds of Jewish families have been left out of pocket due to the insurer’s refusal to reimburse them for treatments.

They are supported by furious dentists, homeopaths, chiropodists, herbal doctors and opticians, who say HSA has failed even to respond to applications they made on behalf of patients.

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Affordable housing scheme in Stamford Hill will

By James Martin, May 27, 2009

An affordable housing scheme in Stamford Hill will take in 15 Orthodox families over the next week or so, with another nearby project set to provide a further 15 homes in the autumn.

Jewish housing association the Industrial Dwellings Society (IDS) purchased 20 of the total 300 units from Taylor Wimpey at Latham’s Yard in Clapton in 2002 with the support of a £3 million Housing Corporation grant. As well as maisonettes intended for families with a number of children, the properties include five single-bedroom flats which are ready for occupation.

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Haringey’s Orthodox community consulted over new loft extensions

By James Martin, May 27, 2009

Haringey’s strictly Orthodox community is being consulted over new guidelines clarifying the council’s position on loft extensions.

At a meeting with 30 members of the South Tottenham kehillah, Haringey’s chief planning officer Marc Dorfman said the aim was to produce design plans showing what constituted “an acceptable extension”.

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Israel to prepare for missile strike

By James Martin, May 25, 2009

Israel is preparing itself for the possibility of simultaneous missile strikes and terror attacks by holding a drill next week.

According to Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai, multiple attacks on civilians “would very likely happen during a war”.

He made the comments during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee meeting yesterday, in which it was announced the Home Front Command will simulate defending against such an assault as part of a large-scale drill to be held next week.

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Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer delivers 1000th speech

By James Martin, May 21, 2009

Holocaust survivor Rudi Oppenheimer reached an educational landmark on Monday when he delivered his 1,000th account of his life.

Addressing pupils at St John’s School in Leatherhead, Surrey, the 77-year-old recounted that his middle-class Berlin family had fled to Holland in 1936 as the Nazis stepped up their antisemitic policies.

“We lived by the sea in Heemstede and lived a happy life as secular Jews. That changed when the Germans occupied Holland and Jews were persecuted, including being banned from public schools and not being allowed into public places.”

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Kisharon blaze guts building

By James Martin, May 21, 2009

Fire destroyed the gym and two outer buildings at Kisharon’s Adult Day Centre in Hendon in the early hours of last Thursday.

Four fire engines and 20 firefighters took almost two hours to get the blaze under control at the rear of the special needs charity’s Parson Street premises.

According to a London Fire Brigade spokesman, an emergency call was answered at 2am and the blaze was under control just before four. “Firefighters worked extremely hard and managed to stop the fire spreading to the main care centre building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.”

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HSA enrages Jewish community with unpaid health claims

By James Martin, May 21, 2009

Hundreds of Jewish families claim they have been left out of pocket because a leading health insurer has failed to pay out for their treatment.

They are backed by angry dentists, opticians and chiropodists who say insurer HSA has failed even to respond to applications they made on behalf of the patients.

Many of the patients are from large strictly Orthodox families in Stamford Hill, north London. They are furious at the lack of response.

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Elizabeth Shrager raises £30,000 for Myeloma UK

By James Martin, May 14, 2009

The widow of the chairman of cross-communal school JCoSS has raised over £30,000 towards research into the cancer from which he died.

Elizabeth Shrager said the fundraising efforts of family and friends for Sunday’s walk in aid of Myeloma UK was “a great tribute to my husband Robert,” a prominent City figure who also chaired West London Synagogue.

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Coe runs the rule over Olympic Jews

By James Martin, May 14, 2009

Lord Coe praised the “British-Jewish” Olympic heritage as he outlined his vision for the London 2012 Games to British Friends of Haifa University supporters on Tuesday evening.

The London 2012 organising committee chair reminded audience members — some of whom had taken a bus tour of the Olympic site in Stratford — of the achievements of Harold Abrahams.

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Just tips? That is a Solly salary

By James Martin, May 14, 2009

Waiters at a leading London kosher restaurant just get tips and no salary, despite the fact that new legislation will soon require all staff to be paid a minimum wage.

Golders Green-based Solly’s restaurant refused to discuss claims that its waiters worked exclusively for tips, claiming that it was a “private matter for the company”.

Asked whether they thought it was ethical not to pay a basic wage before tips, a manager — who refused to give her name — did not want to comment.

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Talksport rapped over Nazi remark

By James Martin, May 11, 2009

Commercial radio station Talksport have been found guilty of breaching broadcasting rules by regulator Ofcom over an incident last November which saw former presenter Jon Gaunt describe a local councillor as a “Nazi”.

Despite Mr Gaunt apologising on-air concerning remarks made in an interview with Redbridge councillor Michael Stark about foster care, Talksport sacked the presenter after an internal investigation into the incident, which saw Ofcom receive 53 complaints.

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Israel takes the swine out of swine flu

By James Martin, May 8, 2009

Israel has re-named the potentially deadly Swine Flu virus as "Mexican Flu" because the virus comes from pigs, which are non-kosher.

Ultra-Orthodox Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman made the announcement at a press conference on the grounds that under Jewish law pigs are considered unclean and pork is non-kosher.

This is despite the fact that the non-kosher meat is available in some stores in Israel.

Mr Litzman was appointed health minister in the recently-formed government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is one of eight ultra-Orthodox ministers in his administration.

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Kiddush spiced by marriage proposal

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

Congregants at a Saatchi Synagogue kiddush in St John’s Wood got more than they bargained for when the shul shammas asked his girlfriend to marry him.

After a couple of fishballs to steady his nerves, television journalist Elliott Gotkine proposed to Mia Serra in front of 70 people.

Although taken aback, Ms Serra, who runs a belly-dancing school, said yes and there were congratulations all round. They will marry in London in August.

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Friends honoured

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

A new gymnasium —named in honour of two former active youth members in Kenton — is the centrepiece of a £70,000 refurbishment programme which will act as “a community hub” for north-west London Jews.

Kulanu, formerly the Kenton Youth Centre, celebrated the completion of six months of refurbishments on Tuesday with a reception which was attended by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, and over 100 others, and included the unveiling of a state-of-the art gymnasium, and sports facilities including a full-size snooker table and table tennis tables.

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Peace duo on visit

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

Two prominent speakers in the campaign to bring peaceful dialogue to the Middle East have been touring the country this week.

Former Palestinian resistance fighter Ali Abu Awwad and Israeli Robi Damelin have been speaking on behalf of the UK Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum, a group that supports the work of the Israel-based BFF which campaigns for peaceful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

The pair spoke to around 200 people at a fundraising dinner in the West End about the efforts of the forum in promoting greater understanding about the conflict to both sides.

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'Non-Jew' to re-wed

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

A man who was told last summer by a Jerusalem rabbinical court that he was no longer Jewish will marry his girlfriend in Israel at the end of this month — under Reform auspices.

London-based Yossi Fackenheim, 29, is the son of the renowned Reform theologian Emil Fackenheim, who died in 2003. Because his mother was a convert, as a two-year-old in Canada, he underwent an Orthodox conversion. But last year he was told that his conversion had been rescinded due to his lack of religious observance.

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MEPs ban Le Pen from Euro-chair

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

A re-wording of European Parliament rules means far-right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen will be denied the opportunity to chair the inaugural session when the new parliament opens in July.

An amendment on the internal workings of the parliament, supported by socialist and centre-right parties, means that the opening session will instead fall to outgoing speaker Hans-Gert Pöttering, a German Christian Democrat.

It is traditionally chaired by the oldest member, currently Le Pen, 81.

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