A batch of 600 esrogim was detained at Manchester Airport by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) last week due to new import requirement for citrus fruits with stalks.
The Jewish community’s Board of Deputies intervened and was able to secure a compromise whereby the esrogim, imported by Stephen Colman, could be taken to the Manchester Chortkov synagogue where their stalks would be trimmed to meet the APHA’s guidelines.
Other esrog importers will be allowed to take their wares to a location where they can be trimmed, provided the fruit is destroyed after Sukkot.
Coleman said, “You can imagine my shock and concern when I was told that my first consignment of etrogs had been held at Manchester Airport with a view to their destruction or deportation. Or my fear when I realized that this could have implications for all 10,000 etrogs due for import to the UK this year.”
BoD president Marie van der Zyl said, “The Board of Deputies has again made a timely intervention which has potentially saved Sukkot.”
She added, “I would also call on the community to ensure that they follow the instructions about how they need to dispose of etrogs after the festival and on suppliers to ensure that etrogs are imported in full compliance with regulations in the years ahead.”
Environment secretary Theresa Villiers for her part thanked government officials, esrog importers, and the Board of Deputies for a compromise that “will ensure that the UK Jewish community can fully celebrate Sukkot while ensuring that our precious plant health is protected.”
Chief Rabbi Mirvis Calls for Menschlichkeit in Politics
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis condemned the “toxic” Brexit atmosphere that permeated last week’s parliamentary debate after the Supreme Court deemed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament unlawful.
Rabbi Mirvis said on BBC’s “Thought for the Day” last Friday, “Our challenged world needs to understand and internalize what it means to be a mensch.”
He added, “When it comes to politics today, civility is often left at the door…. An aversion to complexity and the demise of nuance has made compromise harder than ever to achieve and, most worryingly, when tribalism inspires hate speech, hate crime is only one step away.”
Luciana Berger Will Run for Office in London
Former Labour MP Luciana Berger, who left her party earlier this year due to anti-Semitism in its midst, will run for office in the heavily Jewish populated London constituency of Finchley and Golders Green as a Liberal Democrat.
She told The Jewish Press, “I will be leaving my constituents of Liverpool Wavertree with a heavy heart, but as a family, trying to balance work with raising young children, we have made the decision to move full time to London at the next general election.”
She added about Finchley and Golders Green, “I have a special bond with the area, where many friends and family live, and I spent a great deal of time growing up here.”
It’s not clear who will be Labour’s candidate for the seat, currently held by the Conservatives, after Sara Conway backed down amid criticism for alleging that anti-Semitism was being weaponized against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Liberal rabbi Danny Rich is considering fighting the seat for Labour.
Downpour Marks Second Day of Rosh Hashanah
There was no shortage of water over which to say Tashlich in Golders Green on the second afternoon of Rosh Hashanah.
When David and Datya Kahan set off to say Tashlich at a nearby stream on Tuesday afternoon, it was not raining, though it had been most of Yom Tov. But immediately after they said the prayers at the stream, there was a flash flood and the couple had to circumvent certain pavements to avoid wading in ankle-high water.
David told The Jewish Press, “I don’t know the halacha, but we might have been able to say Tashlich over the floods near my parents’ house without going anywhere.”
Pro-Corbyn Activists Target Vocal MP
MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who has been vocal about anti-Semitism within the Labour party, is facing deselection from her Barking seat by pro-Corbyn activists. More than a third of Labour branches in her East London constituency voted for a selection contest.
Jewish Labour Movement chairman Mike Katz called the move to trigger a ballot a “shameful moment” for the party.
Kosher Deli to Reopen in Liverpool
Liverpool once again has a kosher deli. The kashrut license for Roseman’s deli was revoked in June, immediately after which its owner, Robert Kaye, was found dead.
The shop has now been taken over by Vidal Maman, who used to run Vidal’s Kosher Meats in Manchester. It will be supervised by the Liverpool Kashrut Commission with the approval of the chief rabbi.
Kashrut Commission chairman Mike Barnett and Merseyside Jewish Representative Council chairman Howard Winik said, “It is a great testimony to the sense of unity and commitment within our community that we have been able to get to this point so quickly and can look forward to the New Year with such positivity.”