Boris meets Forum chiefs

By Leon Symons

Senior representatives of the London Jewish Forum discussed a range of issues with London Mayor Boris Johnson and his deputy Richard Barnes at City Hall on Tuesday night.
Housing provision in Stamford Hill and developing Jewish cultural events were among topics covered during the hour-long meeting.

Also on the agenda was establishing a common contract across London's boroughs for welfare services, which would help charities like Jewish Care.

LJF chief executive Alex Goldberg said afterwards: "It was a very constructive meeting from which we will be able to make significant improvements on Jewish life in London."

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London joins Jewish global cities

by Leon Symons

Jewish communities from the greatest cities across the globe are to be linked for the first time through the World Jewish Cities Project.

The new scheme was launched by London and New York when the London Jewish Forum met representatives of the New York Jewish Community Relations Council in the American city last week.
In the first phase of the project, Paris and Budapest will be approached to join and in the second phase Buenos Aires in Argentina, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo in Brazil, and Johannesburg in South Africa.

LJF chief executive Alex Goldberg said: "This is a very exciting initiative that has been born out of a scheme called '40 Cities' that was started while Ken Livingstone was mayor of London. The NYJCRC and the LJF have agreed to work together and we have formed links to take this forward.

"We believe cities are the future because today they are global and they have powerful mayors. There are great city Jewish communities who are of a certain size and dynamic who have built up relations with other communities and governments that would benefit from being brought together."

One example he pointed to was a medical and welfare link between NYJCRC and Jerusalem and which London has been invited to join.

"We will be talking to the key groups that make up the LJF about whether or not we will join," said Mr Goldberg.

As well as welfare and medical matters, the project will cover such diverse areas as education, development, leadership training, how the different communities deal with their city authorities and government and areas where they can form partnerships and exchange ideas.

"We are talking about some communities that have major infrastructures and can share their experiences of dealing with local and national government with those that maybe don't have as much experience.

"One area that will be examined is migration patterns. The NYJCRC wants to get in touch with British and Russian Jews there while we would like to hear from New York Jews living in London. This will open up all sorts of opportunities for us and for them," said Mr Goldberg.

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'Security' row over Munich tribute at 2012 'Security' row over Munich tribute at 2012

By Leon Symons

Allegations that a police trainer has labelled a proposed commemoration of the Munich Olympics massacre at the 2012 London Olympics "a security threat" have been vehemently denied.

An Islamic scholar, hired by Scotland Yard to train police on interfaith issues, had warned that a commemoration ceremony "could become a national security threat if it was not managed properly and was perceived by Muslims to be ‘hijacking' the Games", The Times reported this week.

The scholar, Sheikh Michael Mumisa, was addressing senior officers from the Yard's Transport Operations Command Unit during a two-day training course on faith and interfaith, held last month at the Woolf Institute for the Study of Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim Relations in Cambridge. The course was the first of its kind held by the Institute.

Its executive director, Edward Kessler, said: "Sheikh Mumisa's words have been twisted in a way that is not accurate. I know what was said because I was there throughout the course. We were very unhappy with what appeared because it did not reflect the course that the officers took.

"We are not experts in terrorism, we are experts in faith and interfaith and that's what they were here to learn. It was a very positive programme which dealt with subjects including antisemitism and Islamophobia.

"The possibility of a ceremony to commemorate the Munich Olympics massacre was mentioned as being key to the Jewish community. But it was discussed in terms of one type of commemoration being wholly appropriate and another being wholly inappropriate. The police would have to deal with the situation on the ground and the point was that they should be aware of the sensitivities of each faith community. It was certainly not talked of as a ‘national security threat' or the Games being ‘hijacked'."

Sheikh Mumisa was not at the Institute and could not be contacted for a comment. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed by the Palestinian Black September group at the 1972 Munich Games. The 2012 Games will mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre.

Alex Goldberg, chief executive of the London Jewish Forum, said that any commemoration would be "up to the families of those who died, with the Israel Olympic Association and, ultimately, the International Olympic Committee to decide what it will be".

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London Olympics to mark Munich killings

by Leon Symons

A special event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes is to be held during the 2012 Olympics in London.

A new body called the London Olympic Jewish Organising Committee, set up to link the capital's Jewish community with the Games, has held preliminary discussions with the London Organising Committee, the Israeli Olympic Association, and has had an initial meeting with the Mayor of London's office.

Alex Goldberg, chief executive of the London Jewish Forum, which has helped set up LOJOC, said:
"We believe it is important that arguably the worst episode in Olympic history is marked in a most sensitive way.

"We are liaising with the Israeli Olympic Association, which is representing the families of those who died in the attack and I understand that it will be up to the families to decide ultimately what the commemoration should be.

"All of this is at a very early stage and everything will have to go before the International Olympic Committee," said Mr Goldberg. "So far, we have had very positive responses."

LOJOC has been formed initially by the Forum, Maccabi UK and UJIA. Mr Goldberg said it was hoped other communal organisations would join them.

The new committee will develop a programme of events around the Games for a number of different

It wants to involve Jewish schools and their communities in meeting Jewish Olympians; the development of welfare, culture and religious services for Jewish athletes in the Olympic Village; a London 2012 Jewish website for visitors to the Games; the long-term legacy for the Jewish community within the five Olympic Boroughs and utilising sports to bring groups together and celebrate the cultural diversity of the city.

"This was a key platform that won London the bid in the first place," said Mr Goldberg.

"We know that in Atlanta and Sydney Jewish athletes visited members of the local communities, and we want to offer the same hospitality here for Jews who might be a long way from home."

The London Olympics Jewish Organising Committee is looking to involve the capital's community in the Games. It is already working with the Games Committee, Government, other communities in the capital and various Olympic Associations from Israel and other countries.

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LJF call for re-think on marriage visa proposals

By Leon Symons A Proposed visa law could place obstacles in the way of arranged marriages in the strictly orthodox community

MPs will vote on whether or not to raise the age for visas sought by people abroad wanting to marry here who are aged 18 to 21. The proposal is one of five put forward by the Home Office in an effort to halt forced marriages prevalent in other communities.

However, if the measure is passed, it will have a dramatic effect on those coming to be married in Britain, particularly from Israel and America, critics say. The proposed laws would not affect people coming from the European Union.

Michoel Posner of Agudas Israel Community Services in Stamford Hill said: “It is extremely disappointing for the community that this is happening. The community fully supports the government’s initiative in combating forced marriages. Nevertheless, we feel very strongly that raising the marriage-visa age is not necessarily going to achieve that purpose. Government figures for last year showed there were 69 forced marriages of people aged between 18 and 20. I wonder how many would have been affected if this rule had been in force then.

“There were far more than 69 marriages involving people of that age in Stamford Hill alone last year. If this is passed, young couples will be forced to live abroad and that will have a serious effect on the community,” he said.

Alex Goldberg, chief executive of the London Jewish Forum and former community-issues director at the Board of Deputies, said the picture would be clearer when a Bill is published.

“The devil will be in the detail,” he said. “It has been accepted by Home Office Minister Liam Byrne and Home Office officials whom we met that there is no forced marriage in the Jewish community and that this measure will impact disproportionately on the Charedi community. People will have to get married elsewhere and then move here some time later.”

Foreign spouses may be asked to agree to learn English. Specialist teams may also be used to identify vulnerable people at risk of forced marriage.

FA Announce Respect Programme

by Andrew Sherwood

The Football Association have announced plans for a zero tolerance policy towards anti-Semitism and Islamophobic behaviour at football grounds across the country, following a summit hosted by the Metropolitan Police at the end of last season.

The talks, which were held between The FA, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the National Association of Muslim Police, identified six key areas which will be addressed over the course of the new season: how stewards manage incidents; the way football grounds are policed; how incidents are monitored; strengthening reporting mechanisms; the role of referees, and community engagement and involvement in football.

The idea is to set our clear action plans through both the Anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia Group, with the group, which will be chaired by John Mann MP, scheduled to meet for the first time at the FA on 18 September.

Speaking on behalf of the London Jewish Forum, Alex Goldberg said: “The FA and Kick It Out have run a successful programme in combating racism in football, but anti-Semitism continues to exist in the game.

“This will be a high profile group which will be looking at combating anti-Semitism and we are looking forward to working on it.”
Maccabi GB will be one of those groups at their meeting, and their Chief Executive Martin Berliner said: “We welcome the fact that a structure has been put in place to address these issues and look forward to the meeting next month.”

To mark the launch of the Group, the Jewish News, together with the London Jewish Forum, in association with the FA are giving away five tickets for the England vs Czech Republic game next Wednesday evening at Wembley, as part of a multi-faith girls group attending the match. The winner can take one adult and three nominated friends the same age. The competition is only open to girls who are entering Years 5/6/7 at school. Nominated friends must be girls.

To stand a chance of winning, answer this question between 50-85 words: :How does sport bring communities together?

Send your name, name of parent/guardian, contact email address: and a phone contact of parent/guardian: The winner will be announced on Monday 18th at 13.00. All entries must be with Jewish News by 11.00 on Monday 18th. No entries will be considered past this point To enter the competition, go to

Forum gains a chief exec

By Leon Symons
The London Jewish Forum has poached a senior Board of Deputies administrator to be its first paid official.

Alex Goldberg, currently director of the Board’s community-issues division, has been appointed as the first executive director of the LJF and will take up the post later in the year.

LJF chairman Adrian Cohen said: “This marks a major step in the development of the forum. Alex brings with him enormous relevant experience in areas of community development and social cohesion that will enable us to advance our work in London.”

Jewish board to appoint Muslim adviser

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By Riazat Butt, January 8th 2008

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is planning to recruit a Muslim adviser as part of a scheme to link schools dominated by a single faith.

The adviser will help develop religious and culturally sensitive programmes that will appeal to Jewish and Muslim schools taking part in its Shared Futures project, which fosters respect between pupils from the two faith communities.

The Board of Deputies is the first religious organisation in the UK to launch such a scheme, which complies with government requirements on promoting community cohesion in state-maintained faith schools. From September the schools watchdog, Ofsted, will evaluate whether this is being done.
Alex Goldberg, the director of community issues at the Board of Deputies, said: "By recruiting a Muslim schools adviser we will be able to create more links with the growing number of Muslim faith schools. What we find is that there is a diversity of what is culturally and religiously acceptable and what isn't. It's about having someone with that knowledge. There is a need to bring in a specialist so the advisers can work together to create something that suits pupils from both backgrounds."

Some faith schools have strict guidelines on what they can and cannot teach about other religions and may want to avoid direct interfaith activity, he added.

"Having hands-on projects is one way around this. We want all single faith schools to find an appropriate way to engage with each other. Traditional faith to faith dialogue is not necessarily the only option."
Last year the schools secretary, Ed Balls, presented a joint policy statement with representatives from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh groups to endorse faith schools as a force for improving social cohesion in the country.