Heroic Carers

Anne Demby had just arrived at the Edgware & Harrow Jewish Day Centre in Stonegrove last week when she suddenly collapsed.

The 64-year-old widow said: “The attack just came out of the blue. I didn’t know what was going on. I could hear voices trying to help me but I couldn’t speak or control my arms or legs. I was very frightened.”

Centre manager Jayce Harris was one of the staff immediately on hand. She said: “Anne collapsed as she was walking in from the car park. We managed to place her in a wheelchair. Her speech was slurred and her limbs were flailing uncontrollably.”

After calling an ambulance, the staff tried to decipher whether Anne had suffered a stroke. Thanks to staff member Andie Lucas’ medical training, it was apparent the symptoms indicated a Diabetic Hypoglycemic attack, which if not treated swiftly can result in a life-threatening coma. Staff quickly gave Anne a sugary biscuit to stabilise her condition until paramedics arrived.

Anne recalled: “When I came around Andie, and fellow staff member Peter, were by my side and the ambulance men told me they had given me an injection. I would like to thank the fantastic staff for their help. I was so lucky to be at the centre, otherwise who knows what could have happened.”

Anne, a grandmother of three, has lived alone since the death of her husband 18 months ago. She said: “Whenever I was about to feel ill my husband took one look at me and said, ‘Sit down and I’ll get you a cup of tea and a biscuit.’ I’ve done my best to cope without him but these attacks come out of the blue.”

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Cemetery is granted major 1.5 million pound extension

The four Jewish organisations that own Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery in Edgware; Belsize Square Synagogue, Liberal Judaism, Spanish Portuguese and Reform Judaism, won a planning appeal last week allowing them to extend the boundaries of the site by three hectares.

The reconfiguration also includes eight parking spaces for staff and 18 for visitors.

Government Planning Inspector Jennifer Vyse, who conducted last month’s four-day inquiry, upheld the appeal launched by Belsize Square Synagogue – and backed by the other Jewish parties. She said that: “The proposal does not comprise inappropriate development in the Green Belt”.

She added that there was “urgent and pressing need for additional cemetery space for at least two of the communities; Belsize Square Synagogue and Liberal Judaism”.
Barnet Council, which rejected the application last year, was also asked to pay partial costs for the appellants.

Keith Conway, acting for solicitors’ Clyde and Co, who represented Belsize Square Synagogue, confirmed the four Jewish groups will pay for the extension together- which is expected to cost around 1.5 million.

“In total there will be 6,500 new headstones, which will be equally divided among the groups,” he said.

“The 1,600 new burial spaces for the Belsize Square community will mean it can bury its community for the next 60 years,” he added.

He estimated that the council would have to pay costs, “in the tens of thousands of pounds, which includes solicitors’, a barrister and landscape expert.”

Belsize Square has fundraised its share of the extension, and hopes its new headstones will be ready by the start of next year.

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, said: “The next two generations of our members can feel secure knowing that they can have an appropriate burial in an appropriate place, indeed, in the same place as their ancestors.”

Brian Colman, London Assembly member for Camden and Barnet, and Conservative council member for Totteridge, said: “I am outraged it was turned down in the first place; that was a waste of council money. This was a political decision made by the planning committee ahead of the General Election. As I said at the inquiry there were clearly special circumstances, including that people needed to be buried alongside family members.”

A spokesman for Barnet Council said it spent “in the region of £11,000″ fighting the case.

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JFS Considers Academy Status

JFS, in Kenton, has been offered the chance to become
independent of the Local Education Authority, which would see it set its own curriculum and budget under the academies bill, which passed through the House of Commons on Monday.

Any switch from its current voluntary-aided status could be achieved within three months.

Headmaster Jonathan Miller said: “JFS has registered an interest. Our governors will decide what further steps, if any, they wish to take in September.” JFS is one of a number of schools offered this fast-track option, available to those with top OFSTED ratings. Among other changes would be receiving central funding that local authorities spend on the school’s behalf and being allowed to retain any surplus balance.

Miller insisted the school’s ethos “would not change, were JFS to become an academy”. Education Secretary Michael Gove’s Academies Bill will also pave the way for all voluntary-aided schools to become “free” schools, under the same arrangements as the flagship academies.

However, newly set up schools or existing independent schools wishing to apply for free status will only be able to select 50 percent of pupils from the same faith – a move that has caused concern at the Board of Deputies. Writing to parents last week, chief executive Jon Benjamin warned: “The 50 percent rule will prevent many groups from setting up Jewish schools under the free schools system.” He added: “I urge parents to write to their MPs to express disappointment. This measure could also result in it being harder to set up any type of Jewish school, not just a free school, because of competition
for sites and pupils. If schools policy was relevant to how you voted at the General Election, mention this in your letter.” Any existing voluntary-aided
schools looking to become free schools will not be affected by the rule.

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The brother of all battles!

Brothers David and Ed Miliband also gave an insight into their personal relationship just weeks before voting officially opens in the race to succeed Gordon Brown.

Former foreign secretary David, the clear favourite to see off the challenge of his younger brother, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott, told the Jewish News: “I love and respect Ed as a brother and politics needs to take second place to that.”

Both Milibands have pledged to give their second preference vote to the other. But in an affectionate side-swipe when asked if Ed would make a good leader of the party, the elder brother, 45, said: “If I thought he would make a better leader than me I would be running his campaign!”

Both politicians said they believed Labour can win the next General Election under their leadership. Ed, 40, spoke of the need to “ask ourselves the hard questions as we did as New Labour in 1994 ” while his brother said: “I will refresh our policies so we speak to people’s everyday concerns. The point of politics is not to be a debating society, but to change the country. I can offer honesty, authenticity and a new politics to bring about change.”

Turning to foreign affairs, former energy secretary Ed said he intends to lead a party “that remains a true friend to Israel”. David, meanwhile, said: “A stable Middle East has a secure Israel at its heart. This is non-negotiable.”


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Hague’s Next In The Jewish News Hotseat

With just weeks until the General Election, the hour-long event will be an opportunity for community members to quiz the former Tory leader on his party’s approach to the Middle East peace process, the Goldstone report and Iran.

Issues of domestic concern to Anglo-Jewry such as the record number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded last year, as well as topics impacting on society in general, are also likely to be raised by members of the 180-strong audience at the London Jewish Cultural Centre’s Ivy House on 15 March.

Hague said this week: “I appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Jewish News to engage directly with members of the community on a wide range of issues.”

Hague follows in the footsteps of Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who took part in our last event at the LJCC in November.
London Mayor Boris Johnson and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also took centre stage for separate events during 2009.

Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer said: “The community will be keen to quiz Mr Hague who, if opinion polls are to be believed, is poised to become our next foreign secretary.

“Our readers will be fascinated to hear his thoughts on key issues such as the Middle East peace process, Iran and anti-Semitism.”
Louise Jacobs, deputy chief executive of the LJCC, said: “We are delighted that William Hague has agreed to come to Ivy House to take questions from the Jewish community.

“With a General Election imminent this is an wonderful opportunity for us to hear from a key person at the very heart of Conservative foreign policy.”

-The question and answer session will take place at 6.30pm. Tickets, priced at £10 each, are available on a first come first served basis by calling the London Jewish Cultural Centre on 020 8457 5000.

-Send you questions for William Hague to justinc@thejngroup.com with the subject “Q and A”. Please include your contact details.

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BNP in Hitler attack on cabinet minister

The picture was posted on the internet blog of Scottish BNP leader Gary Raikes, who is standing against Murphy for his East Renfrewshire seat in the upcoming General Election. The area is home to nearly half of Scotland’s 6,400-strong Jewish community.

Murphy voiced his outrage at the image, calling it a “sick stunt”. He told Scottish newspaper The Daily Record: “I spent this weekend commemorating the Holocaust with many Jewish families. This is a sick insult against all those who lost family members in the Holocaust. East Renfrewshire is the most diverse place in Scotland with large Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities. It’s this type of sick stunt that shows why the BNP aren’t welcome here. There’s nothing Scottish or British about the BNP. All good people of all faiths and all political stripes have to stand up to their evil.”

A photograph of Murphy was defaced to give him Hitler’s instantly recognisable moustache and haircut. In the blog accompanying the picture Raikes insisted that the BNP is not anti-Semitic. His comments appeared to be a response to earlier allegations made by Murphy on his own website last week. Murphy had said of the BNP: “They are now planning to stand against me and it’s time for them to give some answers about their denial of the Holocaust and their hatred of immigrants. Their politics are alien to our British way of life – where we try to see people for who they are rather than their skin colour, nationality or religion. The BNP’s Nazi salutes and Holocaust denials turn my stomach.”

Raikes retorted on his blog that the BNP was not “anti-Jewish”, saying that it had Jewish members. He refuted Raikes’ claim that the BNP denies the Holocaust or gives Nazi salutes, saying: “It is a matter of historic fact that millions of innocent people were killed on an industrial scale by the Nazis.”

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said: “This is juvenile and offensive and demonstrates that the BNP is unable to raise its politics above the level graffiti. It reinforces their denial of what Nazi ideology stood for and led to.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Jim Murphy has been a true champion of Holocaust education and remembrance over many years. For anyone to slur him in this way is utterly despicable. This appalling stunt is not only shamefully offensive but also clearly exposes the warped agenda of the far right.”

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Sharon’s Coma is a ‘Tragedy’

“Had he remained as prime minister we would probably have had a settlement right now,” Lord David Trimble said during the inaugural Young Norwood Today breakfast event on Wednesday.

Trimble, speaking at the event chaired by the Times Associate editor Daniel Finkelstein on Wednesday, said that we should talk to Hamas, “but only in a context that would be fruitful.”

“Hamas is still in victory mode and it would be dangerous for Israel to negotiate with them,” Trimble, who played a key role in the Good Friday agreement, said.

Quizzed about everything from the legitimacy of the EU to the role of the media in any peace negotiations, he said the “occupation and the consequence that has for the Palestinians”, was a PR issue for Israel. “There is a traditional British reverence for the underdog.”

Although the Conservative peer, who led the Ulster Unionist party from 1995 until 2005, has previously warned that comparisons between the IRA and Hamas are misleading, he said there were lessons to be learnt. As with Northern Ireland, he said it was not easy to make the judgment and know when to talk.

Trimble told an audience of 130 at the event, held at the offices of law firm Norton Rose, that the Republicans only took peace steps “when they were compelled to do”.

“They were doing it because they realized what they were doing was going to fail.”

He said that just as it had been in Northern Ireland before a deal was reached; it was “clear” the outcome of Middle East negotiations would be a two state solution.

“It was nearly all worked out at Camp David in 2000. If all the key parties were committed to a negotiation it wouldn’t take long.”

Trimble, who joined the Conservative party in 2007, two years after losing his seat in the General Election, said he would take any cabinet job that David Cameron asked him to. He blamed the BNP’s recent success on voters being disaffected with Labour, but said he agreed with the BBC’s decision to host BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time this week.

“You don’t want to give them the opportunity to cry discrimination,” he said.
And what did the joint recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize think about this year’s result?

“I was a bit surprised that Obama won,” he said. “I asked ‘for what?’.”
The breakfast event raised £6,000 for Norwood, which supports people with learning disabilities.

“Events like these are very important in the charity’s work to provide a vital safety net to thousands of vulnerable people in our community,” said Young Norwood Fundraiser Alisa Fleishman.

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