A new charedi educational campaign group called Chinuch Ledoros has been formed.
Activist Shraga Stern, a member of the new group, told the Jewish Press, “With the election of a new government and the imposition of anti-religious [facts-of-life education] regulations just months away, the time seems right to confront Whitehall with the reality of how the strictly Orthodox community intends to react.
“The fact that an increasing number of strictly Orthodox schools are being failed by Ofsted adds urgency to the situation.”
He condemned the failed “softly, softly” approach of the more mainstream Chinuch UK.
Gateshead Jewish Primary School recently failed to meet Ofsted requirement over LGBT issues. The school organized interaction with non-Jewish schools so that pupils could learn about other cultures and customs, but Ofsted was not satisfied that the Jewish pupils were knowledgeable about other beliefs. The inspectorate also condemned the school’s refusal to teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Stamford Hill’s TTD Gur School, meanwhile, was rated inadequate in all areas. Ofsted determined that the school provided “a poor standard of education in secular subjects.” English reading was particularly poor because the pupils’ primary language was Yiddish and most of the school’s time was spent on Jewish studies.
Insufficient time was also spent on secular studies at London’s Golders Green’s Lubavitch Senior Boys’ School, according to Ofsted. Inspectors also found religious texts that they said were not respectful of women. According to Ofsted, one of these texts said women were “guards” of a family’s well-being rather than workers.
Uncertainty Remains Regarding New Organ Donation System
British Jews are confused about the halachic approach to England’s new opt-out organ donation system, which come into effect this spring. (Right now, it’s an opt-in system.)
A survey published last week by the Jewish Organ Donation Association showed “significant confusion” over the Jewish approach to the subject. More than half the respondents saw the Jewish position as “unclear” or “very unclear.”
British rabbinical authorities are divided on the matter. The Federation Beth Din has instructed people to opt out of the organ donation register; the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has taken a more measured approach; while Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who heads the United Synagogue, has yet to make a statement on the matter. His office said it has been in consultations with the national Health Service for 18 months and will be giving advice on the subject within weeks.
England Freezes Hezbollah Assets
Great Britain has frozen all of Hezbollah’s UK assets after announcing last week that the organization is a terror group. (Previously, only the group’s “military wing” was considered terrorist in nature.)
Board of Deputies senior vice president Sheila Gewolb welcomed the move. She said, “Hezbollah’s genocidal intentions are clear. Keeping their flags off our streets and their financial assets frozen is vital in making the world a safer place.”
Labour Candidates Address Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism featured prominently in the Labour leadership candidates’ first meetings with the public over the weekend.
Leadership candidate Jess Phillips, a member of the Friends of Israel, said the party had “lost the moral high ground” on the issue and accused some of her rivals of not speaking out previously on the issue.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry hit back, saying she has always been clear that anti-Semitism “undermines us as a party.” She added, “What the Israeli government is doing at the moment is completely unacceptable. But that is not the fault of the Jews.”
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said, “I have spoken out. I’ve spoken on the radio, on the media. I’ve spoken about rule changes I thought we should adopt about the international definition of anti-Semitism. I’ve also made those arguments in Shadow Cabinet as Emily and others have done as well.”
Shadow Brexit Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said Labour “could never let that level of mistrust happen again.” Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, said she was “ashamed of where our party has ended up.”
Labour Deputy Candidates Keep Their Distance
Labour deputy leadership candidates Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler have still not committed themselves to the Board of Deputies’ “Ten Pledges To End The Antisemitism Crisis.”
BoD president Marie van der Zyl said, “It beggars belief that after four and a half years of failure on anti-Semitism, Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler still think they know better than the Jewish community how to fight this vile prejudice.”
She called on Labour voters to deny them support. All candidates for the leadership of the Labour party have committed themselves to the pledges.
Local Shuls, Church Come to the Rescue
East End synagogues, and even a church, have pitched in to help after London’s East London Central Synagogue had to cancel its Holocaust Memorial Day event – planned for next Sunday – due to a collapsed roof.
Worshippers were unable to daven at the near-100-year-old building last Shabbat due to the damage. President Leon Silver said, “I was shocked when I arrived to find the aisle strewn with broken wood and plaster.”
The Holocaust service will now be hosted by the nearby Sandys Row Synagogue. Offers to host it also came from the historic Sephardi Bevis Marks Synagogue as well as from a local church.
Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum chairman Rector Alan Green said, “There is wide support for the Jewish community and their East End heritage.” He added, “We won’t allow the Holocaust memorial to pass without showing our solidarity.”