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Manchester Big Tent flap may be over

    Two senior Northern Reform figures have been named in a committee set up to defuse controversy over the Big Tent for Israel conference in Manchester at the end of the month.

    The event, set for November 27, had been hit by an escalating row after organiser Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag said he would not consider inviting non-Orthodox rabbis to speak.

    But last week Rabbi Guttentag reached a compromise with the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, by agreeing to the creation of an independent committee to approve the choice of speakers.

    Reform's Louis Rapaport, former Manchester Jewish Representative Council president, and Gary Copitch, will provide Progressive representation on the 12-person committee.

    It will now be chaired jointly by Board president Vivian Wineman and the president of the Rep Council Lucille Cohen. Other members include Zionist Federation president Eric Moonman, former UJIA president Brian Kerner and the United Synagogue's Stephen Pack.

    Mrs Cohen said that she had accepted the joint chairmanship "in order to validate the conference's cross-cultural nature and to try to ensure that Manchester is strongly represented".

    David Berkley QC, who is a member of the committee, commented: "Communal leaders in Manchester are now relieved that what might have been a cause for embarrassment has now been resolved."

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