James Martin

Acting? It’s a family affair

By James Martin, March 12, 2009

They may look like members of a typical suburban Jewish family, but the all-singing, all-dancing Brooks children are bursting with creative ambition.

Last week Michaela, 13, was strutting down the red carpet (wearing the dress she wore for her Finchley Reform Synagogue batmitzvah) as she joined the stars of new film The Young Victoria at its London premiere.


Now they claim I’m not Jewish!

By James Martin, March 12, 2009

Yossi Fackenheim is a 29-year-old Israeli like any other. He proudly served in the IDF and lives and breathes the country. But a judge in the Jerusalem rabbinical court has ruled that he can no longer be considered Jewish.

“Either I’m excommunicated and there’s nothing I can do, or I fight and get justice for a right I thought was mine for life — being Jewish,” said Mr Fackenheim defiantly as he sat in a Swiss Cottage café in north London, discussing a bewildering turn of events.


Protests mar Israel’s Davis Cup joy

By James Martin, March 9, 2009

Israel has advanced to the quarter-finals of tennis’s most prestigious national team cup in a match that was overshadowed by violent political protests.

Israel’s joy at beating Sweden 3-2 and earning a tie with Russia in July, was tempered by the fact that violence erupted outside Malmo’s Baltic Arena during Saturday’s doubles match.

Riots outside the stadium saw rock-throwing protesters attempt to storm into the arena, with Swedish police forced to apprehend around 100 protesters.


Kisharon cooks up £10k

By James Martin, March 5, 2009

Over 1,000 people made a meal of supporting special needs educational charity Kisharon on Saturday evening.

They were guests at 60 dinner parties nationwide organised as part of a “Quiches for Kisharon” fundraiser from which the charity hopes to generate £10,000.

Kisharon’s Juliet Moss said Costco and kosher butcher Louis Mann were among retailers who supported the event by either “donating food, a percentage of profits, or collecting donations from shoppers”.

Leanne Orkin helped to organise a dinner party in Stanmore for 70 guests which raised over £2,000.


Yavneh pupils enjoy Olympic games

By James Martin, March 5, 2009

Four-hundred Yavneh College pupils were put through their paces by British Olympic triple jumper Larry Achike on Tuesday.

Achike visited the Borehamwood secondary to conduct a fitness circuit on behalf of Team Superschools, with participants raising £5,000 through sponsorship towards a trampoline and a support scheme for promising young athletes.

After completing a demanding series of exercises, pupils took advantage of the opportunity to quiz Achike about his career in international athletics, training methods and diet.


Restaurant trade defies recession

By James Martin, March 5, 2009

Kosher diners are not being put off their food by the recession.

Twenty kosher licence inquiries have been received by kashrut authorities in London and Manchester over the past few months.

This week, Kedassia-supervised Golders Green Indian restaurant Mattancherry reopened under new management.

There have been two recent kosher additions in Manchester and new restaurants are set to open after Pesach in Hendon and Borehamwood.


Walking into festival

By James Martin, March 5, 2009

Boris Johnson has welcomed the Jewish involvement in The Story of London, a major cultural festival taking place in June.

Launching the project this week, the London Mayor said: "The Story of London is about a city of 300 languages and many faiths and is aimed at all communities.

"There will be a superb opportunity to explore some of the sites that have been at the heart of the Jewish community's important place in the city's development."

As part of the project, walking tours of the East End and Hampstead will be organised by the Jewish Museum.

"We're delighted to b


Faith in a recession

By James Martin, March 5, 2009

Businessman and philanthropist Jonathan Faith was among those advising on how to survive the credit crunch at an open meeting organised by North Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue on Sunday.

Mr Faith suggested that employees did all in their power to make themselves indispensable to their bosses.


Ram: why I played in Dubai

By James Martin, February 26, 2009

Israeli tennis star Andy Ram has explained his reasons for deciding to go ahead and play in the Dubai Open after being labelled unpatriotic by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Ram was given a visa to play in the UAE only after a high-profile controversy the previous week over the exclusion of his compatriot, Shahar Pe’er, from the women’s tournament.

Ha’aretz quoted the Prime Minister as saying: “It would be highly worthwhile for someone to advise him to demonstrate patriotism and solidarity, and boycott the tournament.”


Nobel Peace laureate blasted for talk ‘demonising’ Israel

By James Martin, February 26, 2009

A Nobel Peace laureate has been heavily criticised by the Northern Irish Jewish community for “demonising” Israel in a lecture last week.

Mairead Maguire, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Belfast, gave this year’s Erskine Childers lecture in London, under the auspices of the UK United Nations Association.

She described Israel as having carried out a “siege” of Gaza and called the Israeli government’s recent incursion a “crime against humanity” and a contravention of the Geneva Conventions.


JCC's plans for £10m centre

By James Martin, February 26, 2009

Downsized plans for a £10 million cross-communal centre in West Hampstead were unveiled this week.

The Jewish Community Centre’s proposed redevelopment of a site at the junction of Finchley Road and Lymington Road will focus on “meeting the cultural and social needs of London’s 200,000 Jews”, according to JCC executive director Nick Viner.

Ambitious previous £50 million plans for the development, incorporating a swimming pool and gym, were abandoned last year in light of the financial climate.


'The Man U of cholent'

By James Martin, February 26, 2009

Kosher Deli has been hailed as “the Manchester United of the cholent world” after a third successive victory in the Saatchi shul’s Cholent of the Year contest.

The company’s cholent saw off the challenge from Menachem’s in Golders Green and Adafina of St John’s Wood at a tasting by the 100 people at last Friday’s Saatchi service. The trophy was presented to the victors on Sunday morning.

A “very happy” Albert Bendahan from Kosher Deli gave a clue to his recipe for success.

“Remember cholent comes from the French chaud lent [slow hot]. That’s the secret.”


Education for all from Masorti

By James Martin, February 26, 2009

Subjects ranging from the Bible and Talmud to an introduction to Islam are among the 50 classes available from Masorti’s new adult education programme, Lishma.

Launching in March, it will be held in venues in North-West London and Hertfordshire and will be open to non-Masorti members.

Lishma founder Matt Plen believes that “Masorti’s blend of traditional, tolerant, open-minded Judaism is relevant to people across the community.


Wine store opening

By James Martin, February 26, 2009

The owner of a new kosher wine store in Hendon believes his market will be unaffected by the credit crunch.

Speaking after the opening of The Grapevine, David Margulies said: “A lot of premium wines have come down in wholesale price and we have been able to pass on that discount to our customers.”

Located in Bell Lane, The Grapevine fills a gap in the market created by the closure of Amazing Grapes.

“About five months ago the opportunity came to take over the store and it held an appeal as we were looking to expand our operation,” Mr Margulies explained.


Housing association fears cut in Barnet funding

By James Martin, February 19, 2009

The Barnet-based Jewish Community Housing Association fears the loss of essential services through local authority funding cutbacks.

JCHA currently receives £71,752 from Barnet Council’s Supporting People programme to pay for wardens and an emergency calls system for seven schemes and over 200 tenants, among them people with learning or physical disabilities.


Kingdom to remain shut at Passover

By James Martin, February 18, 2009

Golders Green supermarket Kosher Kingdom has advised customers that it will not reopen in time for Passover.

The store has been closed since a fire last summer and bosses tried unavailingly to find temporary premises for the lucrative Pesach market.

“Despite our best attempts, we have had to face the inevitable,” Kosher Kingdom’s David Rokach said. “It’s obviously a missed commercial opportunity but it actually hurts us that we can’t service our customers this year as they’ve become so reliant on us.”