Brummies are good sports as the Commonwealth Games begin

Jewish community members and organisations are volunteering and offering hospitality. Some have taken part in the Queen's Baton relay


Birmingham Central Synagogue member Alan Stanton flew the flag for St Lucia at the Commonwealth Games this week— well at least at the dress rehearsal for Thursday’s opening ceremony.

One of the army of volunteers who will help to ensure the Games’ smooth operation, Mr Stanton said that his role as a “stand-in athlete” had prompted “a certain amount of mirth among those who know me.

“The rain was pouring; the wind was howling. I couldn’t wait to return to sunny St Lucia,” he joked.

Mr Stanton will be volunteering at the netball tournament venue, checking tickets and assisting disabled visitors, and was keen to highlight the involvement of Jewish volunteers. “I’ll make a point of wearing a kipah.”

Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, minister of the city’s largest shul, Birmingham Hebrew Congregation, is representing the Jewish community on the Games’ Faith and Communities committee, which is replacing the chaplaincy provision. He is ready to help with kosher food requests and other religious inquiries from athletes, officials and spectators.

Speaking before attending the opening ceremony, Rabbi Jacobs reported that with the pandemic having diminished demand from overseas, he expected most Jewish visitors to be day trippers from other UK centres. “But we are offering hospitality for Shabbat and putting people in touch with the local deli.”

Arnie Kaplan is among local Jews who have been part of the Queen’s Baton relay to the opening ceremony.

Participants were chosen in recognition of contributions to the community and Mr Kaplan, chair of the We Are All Making A Difference charity, took the baton in Shirley, Solihull, on Tuesday afternoon, cheered on by family, friends and locals.

“It was absolutely amazing,” he told the JC. “It was in a residential area but people were lining the streets.

“Someone said it was a bit like carrying a Sefer Torah.”

As well as the recognition for his charity, he was “proud to be representing the Birmingham Jewish community”. With tickets still available, Mr Kaplan hoped to attend sessions of athletics, rugby and table tennis at the Games.

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