James Martin

Alumni respond to crisis in chaplaincy funding

By James Martin, April 30, 2009

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was among over 50 Cambridge University alumni at an emergency meeting in Golders Green on Sunday which raised £20,000 towards maintaining a Jewish chaplaincy post in Cambridge and East Anglia.

The meeting featured tributes by recent graduates to the essential role of student chaplains at Cambridge. Supporters were urged to ensure sufficient funds were in place to recruit a new chaplaincy couple after Rabbi Yehuda Fishman and his wife Nechami stand down at the end of the academic year.

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Hillsborough remembered

By James Martin, April 23, 2009

Members of the Israeli branch of the Liverpool Supporters’ Club joined the Anfield service marking the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. In remembrance of the 96 fans who were crushed to death on the terraces at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, the Israelis brought flowers and a message of solidarity with those who had lost loved ones.

Head of branch Dotan Segall said: “There is a big support for Liverpool thanks to the tradition of Israelis playing for the club.

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£100k in cancer aid

By James Martin, April 23, 2009

The family of a man who died of bowel cancer have helped to raise £100,000 in his memory for equipment aiding the early detection of cancer.

Hampstead property developer Anthony Glantz died two years ago aged 45, leaving a wife, Janine, and daughters Lara, Chloe and Maya.

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Memorial to dedicated doctor

By James Martin, April 23, 2009

A north London mental health centre has been renamed in memory of a psychiatrist who gave 30 years of dedicated service to patients.

From this week, the Fore Street Mental Health Centre in Enfield will be known as The Lucas Building, reflecting the contribution of Richard Lucas, who died last summer, aged 65.

The renaming was the idea of staff and patients of the Muswell Hill Synagogue member, who was awarded an OBE in 2003 for medical services. His widow Lynne was among the 100 people at a ceremony on Monday afternoon.

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Michael Howard recalls family Shoah victim

By James Martin, April 23, 2009

Former Tory Party leader Michael Howard spoke movingly about his family connection to the Holocaust before an audience of 500 at a Yom Hashoah event in central London on Sunday.

Mr Howard’s grandmother died in Auschwitz after she and his aunt “had been taken from Romania in a stinking cattle truck”. His aunt had survived — on one occasion “because they ran out of gas” — and came to live with his family in Wales after the war. The MP has visited the death camp site on three occasions and paid tribute to the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

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SNP candidate accused of Islamist agenda

By James Martin, April 22, 2009

A close adviser to Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has been accused of being an Islamist in a report by the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based counter-extremism think tank.

Osama Saeed was unveiled last Friday as the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) candidate for Glasgow Central at the party’s spring conference.

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Reel stars

By James Martin, April 16, 2009

United Synagogue burial head Melvyn Hartog and 15 Ilford Synagogue members will make their big screen debuts in a film by Gurinder Chada, whose hits include Bend It Like Beckham and Bride And Prejudice.

They featured in a scene shot at Willesden cemetery for It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, which is described as a mixture of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Shaun Of The Dead. The scene is about a Jewish grandmother, played by Zoe Wanamaker, envisioning her own funeral. Mr Hartog portrays the rabbi who comforts the mourners — the Ilford shul members — and wishes them long life.

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Asylum aid

By James Martin, April 16, 2009

Board of Deputies president Henry Grunwald has praised the drop-in centre for asylum seekers run by the New North London Synagogue, Finchley, as “a fantastic example of how a local community can make a difference”.

Mr Grunwald visited the centre along with London’s Deputy Mayor, Richard Barnes, at the behest of Edie Friedman, director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, which supports the centre’s work.

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Therapists' 'Nazi' slur

By James Martin, April 14, 2009

A medical journal has been condemned for publishing an article comparing Israel’s actions in Gaza to Germany under the Nazis.

Therapy Today, the 32,000-circulation house journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), ran a 4,000-word article in its March edition titled: “Palestine: to resist is to exist.”

The piece was written by Martin Kemp and Eliana Pinto, two psychotherapists who went on a 10-day trip to the West Bank in November, and gives their views of the effect of the Gaza conflict on the health of the population.

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Rise in aliyah figures can’t hide the facts

By James Martin, April 8, 2009

Western Jews are apparently planning on flocking to Israel in their droves because of the global financial crisis – according to a prominent aliyah agency.

Nefesh B'Nefesh reported last month that from September 1 until December 31, 2008 - the first four months of the crisis – they recorded 2,947 inquires, while during the same period in 2007 only 1,398 people called, an increase of over 100 percent.

And perhaps it’s no surprise that people are considering their future in the Diaspora as jobs become scarce and financial security elusive.

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Barnet school forced to close

By James Martin, April 7, 2009

A strictly Orthodox Golders Green school will have to close after Barnet Council rejected a final retrospective appeal for planning permission last Wednesday.

Beis Medrash Elyon, educating 45 boys in Golders Green Road, has operated without planning permission for five years.

Councillor Dean Cohen proposed that the school be granted consent “on the grounds that it has been in place for some time and its current use has demonstrated significant benefit to the local community”. Councillors Eva Greenspan, Melvin Cohen and Jack Cohen highlighted its educational merits.

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Matzah sent to Bahrain

By James Martin, April 7, 2009

One of the world’s most isolated Jewish communities will celebrate Pesach thanks to a parcel from Edgware’s Lubavitch emissary.

The parcel contains Pesach supplies for 15 families in Bahrain and was sent by air after special permission was gained from the Bahraini Embassy in London.

Rabbi Leivi Sudack, of the Lubavitch movement, said: “We are helping the community in Bahrain, which is very small and detached from the wider Jewish world, to celebrate Pesach fully.

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From MI5 to a novel existence

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

Former MI5 head Dame Stella Rimington gave over 200 League of Jewish Women supporters an insight into life in the security services at a central London meeting.

Dame Stella recounted her rise up the MI5 ladder from the lowly base of a desk job in New Delhi. Having moved to India in the 1960s with her civil servant husband, she was “tapped on the shoulder and asked to join up”. Things are “very different now, with an application process and interviews just like any other career”.

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Big night for Motor Neurone’s sufferer

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

A mother-of-two who has lived with Motor Neurone Disease for eight years has praised Jewish supporters for their “kindness and generosity” in raising £10,000 predominantly for the MND Association.

Sarah Ezekiel, 43, from Hendon — who was diagnosed when pregnant with her second child — spoke to the 200 guests at the Finchley fundraiser through a special computer. “MND is a devastating disease without a cure,” she said. “We need more awareness.”

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Site search for West End kosher brasserie

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

Kosher restaurateur and caterer Kenny Arfin intends to open a “New York-style brasserie” in the West End by the end of the year.

Mr Arfin, 55, who runs The Restaurant at Bevis Marks in the City of London, hopes to have found premises by the autumn.

“I’m looking to purchase a site in the West End,” he said this week. “But it needs to be the right size and at the right price so I’m biding my time.”

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Agudas home help in Barnet

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

New subsidised housing for north-west London’s Orthodox community could be available within two years.

The Agudas Israel Housing Association, which administers assisted housing schemes in Hackney and Haringey, wants to develop 13 units, including maisonettes and flats, in Barnet.

They are part of a planning application from Metro Construction, which is also seeking Barnet Council approval to develop the former Carmelite monastery in Bridge Lane, Golders Green, into 29 apartments and five detached houses.

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Fire destroys Edgware mikveh

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

A fire at Chabad House, Edgware, last Thursday afternoon caused damage estimated at £50,000.

The blaze at the Hale Lane premises — attributed to “a breakdown in the electrical installation which services the mikveh”— started at 4pm. Fire services were on the scene in 10 minutes but could not save the outdoor shed housing the mikveh, furniture and prayer books. The mikveh was installed eight years ago in memory of former PoW Jack Marks, who had died in a house fire.

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Europe hate crime up

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

A dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents in the first three months of this year was reported at a special session of the European Parliament.

The number of incidents so far in 2009 exceeds the total number of such occurrences during 2008, according to the report from the European Jewish Congress.

The report cites reaction to Israel’s operation in Gaza as a key trigger for attacks, adding that the economic crisis is reviving old antisemitic stereotypes. The same upwards trend in antisemitic incidents was evident in Canada.

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Media ‘boost bogus Shoah tales’

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

A world expert on false Holocaust testimonies is concerned that media interest in Shoah accounts is encouraging people to fabricate stories.

Professor Sue Vice, of Sheffield University, has suggested that the current popularity of “misery memoirs”, or mis-lit, has created a situation where “accounts of suffering are very marketable”.

Giving the annual Holocaust lecture at Royal Holloway University’s Holocaust Research Centre, Professor Vice argued that the media, “intrigued by the Holocaust, may be a factor behind false accounts”.

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Chief rabbi backs G20 prayer

By James Martin, April 2, 2009

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has joined other faith leaders in expressing hope that the G20 meeting in London this week would be “blessed with wisdom”.

The Chief Rabbi signed a religious leaders’ communiqué addressed to heads of the world’s largest economies, which stated: “Our prayers are with the world’s leaders that they be blessed with the wisdom and courage to begin the journey from recession to recovery, and from the old world of national pride to a new age of global responsibility.”

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