Jessica Elgot

Coming out - the coming-out videos

By Jessica Elgot, February 9, 2012

Gay and lesbian Jewish activists are stepping up their campaign to have Keshet UK, the Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum, advise Jewish schools on teaching about homosexuality, after the controversy over a reference to Jewish gay cure group JONAH in a JFS lesson on the topic.

This week, Channel 4 presenter and ex-JFS pupil, Benjamin Cohen, released a video, promoted by the bro

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Missionary runs Holocaust Memorial Day events

By Jessica Elgot, February 9, 2012

A "messianic Jewish" leader, actively seeking to convert Jews to Christianity, hosted a Yorkshire town's Holocaust Memorial Day activities last week, a move condemned as a "perversion" by anti-missionary activist Rabbi Shmuel Arkush.

Selby-based Adrian Glasspole, founder of the UK branch of Chosen People Ministries, who said he was halachically Jewish, described himself as "responsible" for the

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No 'cure'- you can't 'pray away the gay'

By Jessica Elgot, February 9, 2012

A Jewish newspaper columnist has robustly defended a controversial piece that she wrote suggesting that homosexuality could be cured.

Doreen Wachmann, who writes for the Jewish Telegraph in Manchester, said last week that she was daring to "put my head above the parapet and write about the forbidden topic" and expressed her "reservations over the contemporary Orthodoxy which dictates that homos

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Protests force end to Nazi surgical tools sale

By Jessica Elgot, February 9, 2012

"Ghoulish" surgical tools belonging to a Nazi war criminal have been withdrawn from auction in Cornwall this weekend, after a furious series of protests to the auctioneers.

The hacksaw and scalpels, engraved with the name Anton Burger - SS commandant of the Theresienstadt ghetto - are set in a velvet-lined wooden box.

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Benjamin Cohen on being gay and Jewish

By Jessica Elgot, February 8, 2012
Channel 4 presenter and ex JFS pupil Benjamin Cohen has released a video, promoted by the broadcaster, where he describes his experience coming out as gay as a Jewish teenager.

The video has been tweeted and backed by celebrities and journalists including Jon Snow, Stephen Fry, Sarah Brown and Krishnan Guru Murthy.

Keshet UK, the Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum, h

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Jewish Book Week...for the deaf

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

Jewish Book Week is to make four of its events accessible to deaf audience members.

Those deaf or hard-of-hearing will be able to use live speech-to-text translation, transcribed by a reporter using a special phonetic keyboard, using technology from charity Stagetext.

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Nazi defender pulls out of SOAS lecture

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

A controversial lawyer who made his name defending Nazis, Holocaust deniers and Palestinian terrorists, has pulled out of a talk at SOAS tomorrow.

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Special-needs pupil barred from Israel trip

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

The father of a 14-year-old King Solomon High School pupil with moderate learning disabilities is "bitterly disappointed" that she is not being allowed to join the Redbridge school's Israel trip.

But King Solomon teachers maintain the girl is unsuited to a mainstream school and have "health and safety" concerns about her going on the Israel tour in May of next year.

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JFS head won't meet school's gay ex-pupils

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

The head-teacher of JFS has refused to meet gay and lesbian former pupils to discuss the methods of teaching of homosexuality at the school - but has promised to "review" the school's approach.

Former JFS pupils, including co-convener of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum Keshet UK, Dave Shaw, had asked to meet head Jonathan Miller to discuss the reference to "gay cure" organisati

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Israeli universities 'cheaper' for British students

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

Students should consider swapping baked beans in Birmingham for beach life in Tel Aviv – because undergraduate degrees at the city's university are cheaper than the UK, claims Tel Aviv University.

Jewish school-leavers, hit by the £9,000 tuition fees next year at most of the top-tier British universities, could pay around £2,000 less if they choose to study in Israel.

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Green activists hoping to harness pedal power

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

An initiative to get Jews on their bikes has won the support of London's best-known cyclist, Boris Johnson.

On Tu Bishvat, the Jewish Social Action Forum's Big Green Jewish campaign will launch the Year of the Bicycle.

It follows the food-themed Year of the Bagel, where the focus included promoting community spaces to grow food and using eco-friendly produce and crockery at Jewish organisati

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Keeping the faith - or a marriage of convenience?

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012

In Rabbi Jonathan Romain's conversion class, there have been couples converting together, religious Christians, an ex-Muslim convert, policemen, soldiers and housewives.

But although converts come to him from all walks of life, as the Movement for Reform Judaism's conversion expert Rabbi Romain has identified some key trends.

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More calls to open the Auschwitz files

By Jessica Elgot, January 26, 2012

Conservative MP Robert Halfon has called on Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to release the files on the P o W camp in Auschwitz.

Mr Halfon has written to Mr Hammond requesting he release the service record of Israeli President Shimon Peres’s father Yitzhak Persky and other British servicemen held in the camp.

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'Young donors not giving enough'

By Jessica Elgot, January 26, 2012

New Jewish Care chairman, Steven Lewis, has attacked a "lack of responsibility" among younger donors who he says are not giving as much as they could to Jewish charities.

The 49-year-old, who has been supporting Jewish Care for almost half his life, claims his generation does not match previous ones on charitable giving. "We are generous compared to other communities," he said.

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Anger over lawyer who defended Nazis

By Jessica Elgot, January 26, 2012

Anti-fascist campaigners have expressed their disgust at inaction by the Home Office over the impending visit to SOAS of "devil's advocate" Jacques Vergès.

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Former JFS pupils concern over 'gay cure'

By Jessica Elgot, January 26, 2012

Former Jewish school students and religious leaders have expressed "deep concern" about references to "homosexual cure" group JONAH in a JFS Jewish studies lesson, and have called for schools urgently to address the teaching of homosexuality.

Former JFS head girl Alma Smith has written to the school's headmaster, Jonathan Miller, saying that not making reference to lesbian and gay organisations

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SOAS 'biter' acquitted of assault

By Jessica Elgot, January 24, 2012

A PhD student who bit a pro-Israel campaigner on the cheek at SOAS Israel Apartheid Week has been acquitted of assault.

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Mixed-faith couples welcome Romain's discussion forum

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2012

Two Jewish women in relationships with vicars, and gay Jewish and Muslim couples, were among a substantially increased turnout at Rabbi Jonathan Romain's annual seminar for mixed-faith couples.

More than 100 people participated in the "I'm Jewish, My Partner Isn't" event at the Sternberg Centre, Finchley, on Sunday, travelling from as far afield as Glasgow and Nottingham.

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Stamford Hill shul is 'blocking the sunlight' of local residents

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2012

Hackney Council claims that a strictly Orthodox synagogue, built without planning permission in Stamford Hill, is "blocking the sunlight" of nearby families and says its extension must be demolished.

The synagogue, in Bethune Road, was served with an enforcement notice and given three months to demolish an extension and turn the building back into a family home.

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Star Wars pilot flies to Israel for pioneering cancer treatment

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2012

A British actress, who played a fighter pilot in Star Wars, is undergoing pioneering cancer treatments in Israel this week, to treat aggressive breast cancer.

Lynne Hazelden, 52, from Brighton, who played Rebel Alliance pilot Karie Neth in Return of the Jedi, is being treated at the International Centre for Cell Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy (CTCI) in Tel Aviv.

"I was 21 when I was in the

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