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April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘British Jews’

Right-Wing UK Independence Party Backs Shechita Ban

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Britain’s right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) has voted to support a plan to outlaw the ritual slaughter of animals for meat without prior stunning. UKIP is the fourth largest British party in the European Parliament.

Britain’s RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have called on the government to ban ritual slaughter. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to allow exemptions for religious purposes such as the Jewish practice of “shechita” and the Muslim tradition of “halal.”

Both forbid stunning the animal before slaughter, which in Jewish law must be accomplished with a scrupulously sharpened blade and a single, rapid, surgical cut.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who reversed himself in the vote and backed the ban, has since been accused of driving Jews from Britain with the new policy, the Daily Mail reported.

British Jews are already considering their alternatives in the face of rising anti-Semitism at home and across Europe. Last summer alone there was a 400 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed in Britain.

“We respect religious groups to carry out slaughter in the UK according to how they define and read their scriptures. What we do not allow however is for the rights and demands of groups within those religion override the UK’s compassionate traditions of animal welfare.

“Animal and veterinary science has long concluded that cutting the throats of animals whilst they are fully conscious can cause significant distress and pain. We see no reason why religious groups should not take into account the concerns of animal welfare when carrying out slaughter,” the party said in its statement, calling the government’s protection of religious rights “weak, lazy and bordering on spineless.”

Agriculture spokesperson Stuart Agnew told Britain’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper he opposed the policy but was overruled. “This isn’t aimed at you – it’s aimed elsewhere – it’s aimed at others. You’ve been caught in the crossfire; collateral damage. You know what I mean.”

Both Agnew and Farage had previously vowed to oppose the ban.

UK Jews Buy Israeli Goods for Needy Brits

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Thousands of British Jews fought an anti-Israel boycott this week with a campaign that saw Israeli goods gifted to needy British families.

In a “Day of Action for Israel,” pro-Israel activists purchased Israeli-made goods from dozens of stores, and donated them to the needy.

“We achieved three goals: we pushed back against the boycott, we helped Israeli exports, and we gave the food to the homeless and to low-income families,” organizer Raffi Bloom told Maariv/nrg.

Bloom said the day of action was wildly successful, so much so that there are plans to make it an annual tradition.

British Rabbis Scold Orthodox Shul for Letting Women Hold Torah

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

The British organization of orthodox communities has scolded a London orthodox synagogue for allowing women to hold and pass around a Torah scroll in the women’s section during prayers on Shabbat.

The incident has caused far less sensation than the more extreme and public campaign of the so-called Women of the Wall, a group of approximately 100 women who for years have campaigned to claim that “equality” means they can not only hold a Torah Scroll but also can read it at the Western Wall, adjacent to the Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, and in violation of the desires of most daily worshippers there.

Men, unlike women, have an obligation to pray in a minyan with at least nine other men and to hear the Torah scroll being read on Mondays, Thursday, holidays, Shabbat and holidays.

Women’s involvement in public prayer has become more pronounced in recent years, and orthodox Jewish “women’s only” minyans are not uncommon in the United States.

In almost all orthodox synagogues, the Torah scroll is taken out of the ark for reading and is carried through the men’s section, although women in many synagogues are able to touch it as it passes their sections.

The Golders Green United Synagogue has now allowed it to be handed over to a woman, who then passes it around the women’s section until it is returned for reading or to the ark.

Rabbis could raise the issue of Jewish law that perhaps a man cannot touch a Torah scroll that has been handled by a woman who is not ritually clean because of her menstrual period, but the overwhelming issue is the traditional separation of sexes and involvement in prayers as a matter of modesty. The fear is that once one traditional barrier is broken, all of the barriers will be battered down.

Professor Benny Chain, chairman of Golders Green United Synagogue, said, “People have said what an emotional experience it is and that they feel much more involved in the service,” the London Jewish Chronicle reported.

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head of the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, condemned the practice as “Reform-influenced,” explaining that women handling the Torah and “breaches of this nature” come “from the influence of the Reform.”

The issue in the Diaspora usually arises during Simchat Torah, following the holiday of Sukkot. Women in American communities in Israel and others in the United States hold their own minyan for the holiday, read from the Torah scrolls and dance with them, as men have done for centuries.

The most outstanding aspect of the event of women holding a Torah scroll in the Golders Green synagogue is that is has not captured attention among the anti-Orthodox crowd and media elsewhere.

The New York Times took it on itself this year to sponsor the Women of the Wall campaign on its pages, inciting the American Jewish community to fury over the very idea of women not having the “right” to disturb centuries of tradition  at the Western Wall, all in the name of democracy and not Judaism.

Their claim that the Western Wall is a public place, and therefore open to all, holds not water. The Western Wall is a synagogue and is legally under the authority of the Western Wall Rabbi, misguided or not in not allowing women to hold their own minyan in other areas that would not disturb the public at large.

Unlike the Women of the Wall, the carrying of the Torah scroll by women in an orthodox synagogue is not a political campaign and is far more of a challenge to orthodox Jewry in the Diaspora. It raises a far more serious challenge to Orthodox rabbis throughout the world.

In Israel, where most Jews are “secular” but observe many Jewish laws and are generally respectful of tradition, “women’s rights” is of far less interest, The New York Times and the Women of the Wall notwithstanding.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/british-rabbis-scold-orthodox-shul-for-letting-women-hold-torah/2013/12/02/

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