The Board of Deputies Community Briefing brings you the latest news from the Board and the Jewish World.
Wednesday 8 January 2014/ 7 Shevat 5774

Wish for 2014: to build bridges

The Board, alongside other communal bodies, has severe misgivings about  the recent  week long  “Bethlehem  Unwrapped”  festival  at the St. James Church in central London. In the courtyard of St. James  stood a replica of Israel’s West Bank security barrier so colossal it almost blocked the church itself.The faux wall was part of a “Bethlehem Unwrapped” Christmas festival produced in association with an assortment of NGOs that are dogmatic in their hostility toward Israel. Our vice-president Jonathan Arkush described the church’s actions as a “poor model of interfaith dialogue” and “highly biased against Israel”. Misrepresenting Israel’s security barrier, the festival overlooks the reason it was built in the first place: to stop suicide terrorists attacking civilians in Israel. It also ignores the steep decline in terror attacks following the barrier’s construction. Jonathan Arkush said: “This one-sided festival has proven as divisive as we warned. There have been reports of antisemitic exchanges and graffiti at the Wall and we worry that some of the materials displayed may have exacerbated that. We are bitterly disappointed that, in spite of receiving assurances from St James about balance in its written materials, the Bethlehem Unwrapped festival never made it clear over a dozen terrorist attacks were launched from Bethlehem before the security barrier went up. They refused to make it plain that the barrier is a temporary measure to stop the murder of Israelis by groups whose ideology of violence is also responsible for so much devastation across the region, including the vicious persecution of Christians. Just recently, it was revealed that the bombing of a bus in Bat Yam on 22 December was planned and executed by an Islamic Jihad cell in Bethlehem, which shows just how live and real this threat is. Personally, I find it very sad that, as a church, St. James Piccadilly has decided that Christmas should be the season of good-will towards all men - except Israelis. We continue to call on all at St James Piccadilly to stop importing conflict, and start exporting peace instead.”

Limmud- Board makes full contribution to annual festival of learning

The dust has finally settled after the record breaking Limmud Conference at Warwick University. Among the biggest draws was our own Interfaith and Social Action consultant Rabbi Natan Levy, whose Talmud Live! Sessions- in which halachic tractates were discussed using role playing and audience interaction- were attended by over 100 people. Equally well received were the Board’s dialogue sessions on Middle East minorities,  including a discussion involving the Board’s Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg with a Syrian Priest. In addition, a panel discussion hosted by the Board’s PR Manager James Martin about how faith issues are covered in the UK press, attracted more than 50 people. The panellists were the Telegraph’s  Religion correspondent John Bingham, the JC’s Simon Rocker, and the Daily Mail’s Alex Brummer (also the Board’s Vice President). Finally, there was plenty of involvement by Deputies, including President Vivian Wineman, who spoke about Israelis living in the UK, MP Louise Ellman (Deputy for the Jewish Labour Movement) who spoke about her career as a Jewish MP, and two sessions by Under 35 Deputy Gabriel  Webber. The Board was delighted to have taken part in 16 sessions, and proud to have attended a most enjoyable five days among 2,700 souls in the Warwickshire countryside.

Shock and disgust at Anelka gesture

The Board joined the rest of the Jewish world, and right thinking people, in being shocked and disgusted at the use of - what is largely regarded as - an anti-Semitic gesture by footballer Nicolas Anelka at a recent Premier League match.The French comedian who has attempted to popularise this gesture, has form for race hate. French politicians and Jews on the continent were appalled to see this gesture displayed on television and we applaud their staunch response. The Football Association is investigating the matter and we call on them to take the appropriate action.

Blog of the Week

Heard the one about the Anglican priest who went to Limmud and ended his first day at the Daf Yomi session? Hear from The Rev'd Patrick Morrow, Programme Manager of
The Council of Christians and Jews, who is sharing his thoughts on Limmud Conference 2013, in this year's inaugural Blog of the Week. To read it click here.

BoD in the News

As the organisation representing the Jewish community to the media, the Board is often asked for its views across a wide range of topical issues, and the last week has been no exception, with the Board's work and reactions being reported across the Press. Read more about BoD in the News here.
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