Robyn Rosen

Ecstasy as safe as riding?

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

A retired spinal injury consultant has said he was “flabbergasted” after sacked government drugs adviser Professor David Nutt controversially used his decades-old research paper as evidence to compare the dangers of horse-riding with those of the drug, ecstasy.

Dr John Silver, a member of Radlett United Synagogue, has spoken of his shock after Professor Nutt referred to a paper he had written more than 20 years ago, entitled The Hazards of Horse-Riding as a Popular Sport.

More..

Caryl Churchill to lead Palestinian carols at Bloomsbury church

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Protesters will demonstrate outside a Baptist church which is hosting a carol service organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The PSC will be holding its annual Christmas concert at the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in Covent Garden next month.

The service, which has not been advertised on the church’s website but has been listed on the PSC site, will include seasonal readings from playwright Caryl Churchill, whose play, Seven Jewish Children, caused controversy earlier this year.

More..

Ex-envoy was 'antisemitic' on Iraq

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Comments made by the former British ambassador to Libya, Sir Oliver Miles, have been called “unacceptable” and “antisemitic” after he criticised the appointment of two leading Jews to the Iraq inquiry.

Sir Oliver drew attention to the appointment of Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and the war historian and “Blair doctrine” architect Sir Lawrence Freedman, who advocated humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The two men have been made privy counsellors in order to sit on the inquiry committee, which opened this week.

More..

Interfaith women meet Board of Deputies

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Women from six faith communities have met at the Board of Deputies to discuss the challenges they face in modern Britain.

Bharti Tailor, the first woman secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain and Cassandra Balchin, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network, were among the 50 guests, also including former Board vice-president Rosalind Preston.

Coinciding with Interfaith Week, the impetus for the event was the review paper on the role of women in the Jewish community: Connection, Continuity and Community — British Jewish Women Speak Out.

More..

It's a wrap: fashion icon wins charity prize

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Real life Jewish princess and fashion pioneer Diane von Furstenberg cut an impressive figure for Jewish Care when she was honoured as its Woman of Distinction.

The designer, best known for her wrap dress, told around 300 women at London’s Langham Hilton how her life was shaped by her mother Liliane Nahmias, an Auschwitz survivor.

Ms von Furstenberg was born in Brussels in 1946, 18 months after her mother was liberated, then weighing little more than three stone.

More..

South London: Jewish school plans spell revival?

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Plans for a Jewish school could be the salvation of south London Jewry, where congregations are struggling to combat dwindling memberships and an exodus of the young.

Around 13,000 Jews live in the area, making up eight per cent of the capital’s population. With no Jewish schools, kosher shops and few other services available to the community, many young couples move to north London once they have children.

A Jewish primary is seen as a means of stemming the tide, along with a recruitment drive for younger families and students.

More..

Who needs Strictly when you can do the 1 hour waltz?

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

John Sergeant and I have two things in common. Both of us are journalists, and both of us — how can I put this? — have known tsouris on the dance floor. Sergeant is just one of the many celebrities to attract criticism for their performances on the BBC’s reality show Strictly Come Dancing — famously he was dubbed a “dancing pig in Cuban heels” by judge Arlene Phillips.

I have never, ever been likened to a dancing pig, but at a recent simchah I did think I caught the words “three left feet” as I skipped off the floor after a waltz.

More..

Plymouth synagogue sells silver for £175,000

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

A historic collection of silver Judaica which had been auctioned to raise funds for a struggling synagogue has made £175,000, almost double the estimated amount.

Plymouth Hebrew Congregation, the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the English-speaking world, auctioned the collection — considered by experts to be the earliest and rarest set of silver prayer instruments — at Bonhams in London on Wednesday.

The last item in the sale, a rare pair of George III silver and parcel-gilt rimonim and matching yad, was the top sale of the whole auction and made £62,400.

More..

BMI suspends Tel Aviv flights

By Robyn Rosen, November 25, 2009

Britain's second largest airline bmi has announced it will suspend its route between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv, less than two years after it was launched.

According to a statement released by the airline, the route is one of five, including Amsterdam and Brussels, to be suspended in an attempt “to improve the profitability of bmi”.

The statement also said that the airline, which is owned by German airline Lufthansa, “will focus on routes serving oil, energy and emerging markets with a particular focus on business class customers and those visiting friends and relatives.”

More..

Mitzvah Day: Praise from government

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Communities Secretary John Denham has praised Mitzvah Day, saying it “encourages development of shared values” in the wider community.

“People of Jewish faith, from all ages and backgrounds, took part to make a difference by helping people less fortunate than themselves.”

Volunteering or participating in activities like buying additional food to distribute to the less fortunate promoted values “that enrich and strengthen the communities we live in”.

More..

Mitzvah Day: Founder delighted at success

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Laura Marks has seen participation in Mitzvah Day snowball since she launched it five years ago. But she feels there is potential to achieve much more.

The 49-year-old Primrose Hill mum was inspired by a similar project in America.

“I felt British Jewry could really benefit from something like this.

“This year has been overwhelming. The fact you can get so many people to get out of bed on a Sunday and physically engage is quite extraordinary.

“I hope it will become the norm that on the day the whole community goes out to make a difference.”

More..

Campaign to help people with learning disabilities be barmitzvah

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

A national campaign which encourages synagogues and Jewish organisations to include people with learning disabilities has been launched.

The Inclusion Campaign was launched on Sunday at the UK premiere of the documentary film Praying with Lior, at the UK Jewish Film Festival.

The campaign, led by learning disability charity the Judith Trust, asks congregations to initiate practical steps to ensure that people with learning disabilities have a greater involvement in religious and communal life.

More..

Simon Cowell loves Stacey Solomon: official

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Simon Cowell has revealed he is a secret fan of Stacey Solomon and thinks she will make it the finals of X Factor.

The music mogul and X Factor judge made the comments exclusively to the JC at the Norwood annual dinner this week.

Mr Cowell, 50, said: “I like Stacey. She’s a sweetheart. She’s a nice girl with a good voice and she’s getting better. She’s going to be in the final.

“She’s my favourite act after my own acts.”

Former King Solomon pupil Stacey, 20, will be surprised at the comments fromMr Cowell who has criticised her performances in the past.

More..

Artist’s hospital mural for sick children

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

A Jewish artist from Radlett has transformed a hospital children’s area by painting a huge safari themed mural.
Leigh Warman, 45, spent almost three months on the mural in the corridor between the children’s ward and the operating theatre at Watford General.

It is the latest of over 50 murals completed by Mr Warman at hospitals across the country, including Great Ormond Street, the Royal Free and Nottingham.

“Kids go to hospital so frightened but if they can see something they recognise it takes the edge off,” Mr Warman said. “Now it’s lovely and beautiful.”

More..

Mitzvah Day: London communities pitch in

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

To appreciate the breadth of Mitzvah Day activities, you need to experience some of its projects first hand. So with Mitzvah Day committee member Ruth Smilg as my chauffeur and guide, I embarked on a whistlestop tour of events in the capital.

First up was the “collectathon” at New North London Synagogue in Finchley, where at 10am, the hall was filled with an ever-growing pile of clothes, shoes, food, toiletries and stationery.

More..

Mitzvah Day: Interfaith action praised by leaders

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Leaders of other faiths have praised the inclusive nature of Mitzvah Day — which this year coincided with the launch of the government’s Interfaith Week — saying that their own communities could learn from it.

One of the biggest projects was at Kentish Town City Farm where young Jews worked alongside Muslims and Hindus renovating equipment and stables.

The initiative impressed Fuad Nahdi, director of Radical Middle Way, which promotes mainstream understanding of Islam. “I’m proud to be part of such a noble exercise,” he said.

More..

Myleene Klass has JC article framed in her toilet

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Norwood celebrity guest Myleene Klass has framed a JC article about her alleged Jewish heritage.

Ms Klass revealed that the lighthearted “How Jewish is” column published in February 2007 — which assessed her as six per cent Jewish — had a place of honour between her awards and a picture of her with Celine Dion. “It doesn’t get much bigger than that,” she said.

Other famous faces at the dinner included music mogul Simon Cowell, whose guest was Heather Kerzner, wife of South African hotel and gambling magnate Sol Kerzner.

More..

Norwood’s £2.7m dinner

By Robyn Rosen, November 19, 2009

Norwood chiefs have described the £2.7 million raised from its annual dinner on Monday as a huge success in the current economic climate.

The proceeds from the Grosvenor House event, attended by 1,200 supporters, will go towards the £9 million needed from voluntary income to complete the charity’s £35 million budget for children, family and adult services.

Norwood chairman Bernie Myers warned that the recession “has reduced our statutory and voluntary income causing us to renew our efforts to be even more financially prudent and cost effective”.

More..

Mitzvah Day: 15,000 join the day of good deeds

By Robyn Rosen, November 18, 2009

A record-breaking Mitzvah Day involved over 15,000 volunteers from 150 synagogues, schools and communal organisations in good deeds on Sunday.

The 250 projects ranged from repainting school buildings to clearing scrubland, from visiting the elderly to collecting clothes and food for refugees and the homeless.

An estimated 40 tonnes of food and non-perishable goods were donated to Mitzvah Day teams outside supermarkets and delis. A similar quantity of clothes was also collected, along with spectacles, sports kits, nappies and children’s toys.

More..

Radio 4 defends David Mitchell Anne Frank joke

By Robyn Rosen, November 13, 2009

The BBC Radio 4 commissioning editor responsible for comedy has defended the decision to air comedian David Mitchell’s controversial comments about Anne Frank.

In today’s Feedback programme, Caroline Raphael said she did not regret the decision to broadcast the comment made on quiz show, The Unbelievable Truth, earlier this month.

Mr Mitchell, who chairs the programme, said that Anne Frank’s last diary entry was: “It’s my birthday and dad bought me a drum kit.”

More..