Gambling British haredim blamed for spate of burglaries


Gambling debts among haredi Orthodox British Jews spurred a spate of burglaries in Jewish homes and institutions, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The London-based newspaper quoted Police Det. Allen Windsor as saying that “there have been a large number of burglaries at Jewish properties for a long time, but recently we have identified members of the Jewish community carrying out burglaries at communal buildings.”

On Thursday, the Chronicle reported that a recent break-in at the city’s Beth Shmuel Synagogue was attributable to gambling debts. Police arrested three Jewish suspects aged 17 to 19, and they admitted to breaking and entering the synagogue and taking keys to a car parked nearby.

Other incidents included the theft of a car and the robbery last year at the home of a Jewish charity director.  The alleged car thief is said to have been planning to use the proceeds to feed his gambling addiction, while the alleged burglar owed $48,000 to an Israeli gang, the paper said.

The Chronicle also reported that a 23-year-old London Jewish man will stand trial next month after denying four charges of burgling a Jewish primary school.

Rabbi Chanan Tomlin of the United Kingdom's Kids Trust charity said there was a “significant” gambling problem among strictly Orthodox communities in Manchester.

“Poker is a problem among yeshiva students,” he said. “There is a poker culture among these young Jews. Some of them are going to casinos and some are addicted to scratch cards.”

British Jewish lawmaker apologizes for ‘Jews again’ remark


A British lawmaker has apologized for insulting a fellow Jewish lawmaker and Labor Party member during a debate in the House of Commons.

During a debate Wednesday on plans to change the law of universal jurisdiction, Gerald Kaufman turned to a lawmaker sitting next to him and said, “Here we are, the Jews again,” as pro-Israel lawmaker Louise Ellman rose to refute a claim by the Labor Party’s Ann Clwyd that the lawmakers were trying to change the law—making it more difficult to issue an arrest warrant against a suspected international war criminal—to appease the Israeli government.

An arrest warrant was issued in December 2009 for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni after she was scheduled to visit the country to speak before a Jewish organization. Livni did not make the trip.

The comments by Kaufman, who is Jewish but known for strong anti-Israel views, were picked up by a neighboring lawmaker’s microphone.

“I regret if any remarks I made in the chamber caused offense. If they did, I apologize,” Kaufman said in a statement released by the Labor Party.

Ellman reportedly has made a formal complaint to the party’s leadership.

No stiff upper lip as U.K. Jews celebrate Israel @ 60


LONDON (JTA)—With a pair of massive rallies for Israel held simultaneously in London’s Trafalgar Square and Manchester’s Heaton Park on Sunday, British Jewry may be signaling that its transformation is at hand.

Some 30,000 participants attended the public shows of support for Israel, which were inspired by New York’s annual Salute-to-Israel parade.

Several thousand people waving Israeli and British flags marched from the Ritz Hotel to Trafalgar Square followed by dozens of carnival floats, cyclists, dancers and bands. At Trafalgar Square, an Israeli Cabinet minister, Britain’s secretary of state for Education and Britain’s chief rabbi all addressed the crowd. Israeli musicians performed between the speeches.

“I’m sure that my father, who served here as an officer in the British army, couldn’t have imagined that some day tens of thousands of Jews would be waving Israeli flags here in Trafalgar Square,” said Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, who helped organize the events.

Observers and critics alike said the unprecedented show of pride and self-confidence at the rallies is a sign that British Jewry is shaking off its reputation for being timid and low key.

Highlights video from the organizers

Organized by a coalition of community groups under the direction of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, the rallies were aimed at expressing solidarity with Israel at its 60th anniversary and the unity of British Jewry.

Newmark said the idea for the event was born when he and several British Jewish organization executives attended last year’s Salute to Israel parade in New York. Discussing the parade with representatives of the American Jewish Committee, Newmark recalled an AJC representative saying a New York-style Israel salute probably wouldn’t play in Britain.

But Newmark said the New York experience changed his mind.

“Seeing this tremendous display of communal unity and affirmation of the relations between not just the Jewish community but actually America and Israel, we thought, ‘Well, here is one thing that might just play in the UK,’” he said.

Israel’s minister for welfare and Diaspora affairs, Isaac Herzog, who addressed the London rally, told JTA he was pleased that “Anglo Jews decided to follow the American Jews’ example with a display of power and unity.”

An event like Sunday’s Salute to Israel could not have taken place as recently as a decade ago, Newmark said. But a political shift that has made British politics much more tolerant of minorities, lobbies and interest groups changed that, he said.

“If you want to influence political decisions in Britain, you have to operate up front as an interest group, and the community had to adjust to that,” Newmark said.

Some Jews long have complained that British Jews are too timid.

Three months ago, a renowned British-born Israeli expert on anti-Semitism, Prof. Robert Wistrich, told the Jerusalem Post that Britain’s Jewish leadership is taking a “softly, softly approach” in tackling the problem of anti-Semitism.

“There is a long tradition of doing things behind closed doors,” Wistrich said. “It is difficult to break with tradition, but it should be broken.”

Newmark believes the breakthrough is already under way.

“The caricature of Anglo-Jewry that Wistrich and others have sought to portray is no longer the case; it’s history,” he said. “Ask any minister in a government portfolio that relates to the Jewish community in any way if the Jewish community is shy about coming forward or making noise, if they feel they’re not being treated the way they want to. You’d get a pretty clear response.”

Newmark points to several high-profile media campaigns launched by the British Jewish community in the past year, including fighting an academic boycott and campaigning against the Anglican Church’s “divestment intentions,” as further evidence of the community’s willingness to speak up.

“We now have strong support for Israel within all the mainstreams in the nation’s political parties as a consequence of the work done by the Friends of Israel organizations within each party,” he said.

At the rally, Herzog lent support to this argument, saying he felt “decision makers in British politics as well as in the media are much more attentive today to Israel’s case than several years ago.”

Researchers of British Jewry say the Jewish community here has never been healthier.

Keith Kahn-Harris, a sociologist based at London’s Goldsmiths College, says research suggests that in recent years, even during the height of the second intifada, an overwhelming majority of British Jews feel settled and comfortable in their homeland.

To be sure, there are concerns about the growing threat of anti-Semitism and the virulent anti-Israel views coming from some in the media and the intellectual elite. But, Kahn-Harris said in a phone interview, “The threats are manageable and the community developed effective mechanisms to counter them.”

Yaakov Wise, a researcher at the University of Manchester’s Center for Jewish Studies, said the number of British Jews was growing for the first time since the end of World War II.

A large part of this growth is due to an exceptionally high birth rate among the fervently Orthodox, though they were largely absent from Sunday’s parades.

Also underrepresented were Israelis living in England. One communal leader admitted he was “disappointed” by the “limited success” of efforts to engage Israelis in Britain.

On the fringes of the Trafalgar Square rally, some pro-Palestinian Jews took part in a vigil organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Brian Klug, a prominent left-wing activist who announced two months ago he had no intention of celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary, told JTA he did find something positive about the parades in the fact that “Jews are able to express in public their views about something that affects them, which was not the case about 30 years ago when I was growing up in London.”

Still, he said, the Salute to Israel was “unhealthy.”

Salute to Israel organizers, however, didn’t seem to care much about the voices of dissent.

“We’re focused on having a good day and a few fringe voices are not going to upset anybody,” Newmark said.

At the London rally, huge screens projected greetings from Israeli President Shimon Peres and London’s new mayor, Boris Johnson, followed by a slew of American celebrities such as former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Michael and Kirk Douglas, Ashton Kutcher and Ben Stiller.

The events cost some $700,000, and nearly 600 volunteers were required to secure the Trafalgar Square rally alone.

“We promise to do this again next time Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary,” Henry Grunwald, the president of the Board of Deputies, quipped when asked if the Salute to Israel would be repeated.

“I’m sure we will have such events again in the future” he later added, “but probably not on an annual basis like in New York.”

Al Qaeda urges Israel attacks; Israeli Arab lawmakers represent Hamas in court


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The Melting Pot


My Thanksgiving column a few weeks ago was aboutpumpkin pie, the sine qua non of non-Jewish desserts. In passing, Imentioned mincemeat, which I had never seen nor tasted but feltcertain was the Maginot line separating “us” from “them.” Spam, lacedwith lard and pieces of raw tongue, is what I imagined it tobe.

Turns out, I had stumbled upon a widely sharedethnic blind spot.

“Mincemeat — that’s real goyishe food,” manyreaders wrote of a dessert that has become synonymous with defeat anddestruction. (“He made mincemeat of me,” we say when we’re trouncedin a tennis tournament.) Here’s one part of America’s British pastthat Jews envy not at all.

Clearly, an ore of passion was ready to be mined.Mincemeat: Is it a sweet? Is it a pie? Is it meat? Yet for all thatreaders wanted to know, they were nevertheless (as with all mysticalknowledge) afraid to find out.

About this reluctance, I have one thing to say:The time to hide from mincemeat is over. Take a look around you. ThisDecember, menorahs stand next to evergreen trees in the shoppingmalls. Huge ornamental presents wrapped in blue and silver lurecustomers into shops, right alongside those papered in green and red.Self magazine has Cynthia Ozick explaining the Sabbath as part of aneditorial roundup on the Ten Commandments. And LIFE magazine includesRabbi Adin Steinsaltz as one of 35 celebrities (including ShirleyMacLaine and Willie Brown) defining the soul!

(“The soul is worse than politics,” the greatTalmudist writes. “Everyone talks about it without having thefaintest notion of what it is…. Where does a dream go after you’vedreamt it? Where does love go when it disappears?”)

We have dreamed of belonging to the great Americansmorgasbord, and have succeeded, indeed. Bagels and coffee havereplaced the Egg McMuffin as the national breakfast (at least amongthe latte crowd). Rugelach in 10 flavors is sold at the local market.Chanukah pizza — a bed of potato latkes topped with cream cheese andsmoked salmon — is served at Wolfgang Puck! Yes, America has indeedbecome a melting pot. And if America can open up its palate to us, wecan know about mincemeat, even if we’ll never taste a bite.

Yes, mincemeat pie was once a symbol ofChristianity, the obligatory Christmas dessert in 19th-centuryAmerica, even more than fruitcake. No wonder, back in an era whenJews and Christians didn’t mix, mincemeat pie (filled with beef, vealor venison) was untouchable, a sign of the other world.

But from this sense of “other,” we’ve concocted atzimmes. Certain foods are off-limits not because they are treif butbecause they are “not us.” Mincemeat is as good a place as any tolook at this discernment of the “dark side.” It, like so much else inthis American life, has undergone revision. In an era of porcinimushrooms and tofu, meat pies, especially as desserts, have gone outof favor, even in Glendale. In fact, in the just-published “All NewJoy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and EthanBecker, the meat is gone, replaced by enough fruit and nuts to make agood fruit compote. (The new Good Housekeeping cookbook, however,still uses canned mincemeat.)

In the interest of dispelling prejudice, I hereprovide, for the first time in any Jewish newspaper in America, theMince Pie recipe as a testimony to faith in our country. I use therecipe from the old “Joy of Cooking” I got when I moved into my firstapartment. You will note that there is no lard, no tongue, no Spam.It seems like nothing so exotic as brisket.

Mincemeat

Prepare 9 quarts sliced, peeled apples. Combinewith:

4 lbs. lean chopped beef or ox heart

2 lbs. chopped beef suet

3 lbs. sugar

2 quarts cider

4 lbs. seeded raisins

3 lbs. currants

1 1/2 lbs. chopped citron

1/2 lb. each dried, chopped, candied orange andlemon peel

Juice and rind of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon each cinnamon, mace, cloves

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

2 whole grated nutmegs

1 gallon sour cherries with juice

2 lbs. broken nut meats

(1 teaspoon powered coriander seed)

Cook slowly for four hours. Stir frequently. Sealin sterile jars. Before serving, season with brandy.

For Mince Pie, use two pie crusts. Bake at 450degrees for 10 minutes, then at 350 degrees for about 30minutes.

I know you won’t eat it, but now you won’t perishthe thought.

Marlene Adler Marks is editor-at-large of The Jewish Journal.Her new series of “Conversations” at the Skirball Cultural Centerbegins on Jan. 11 with guests Gordon Davidson, Gil Cates and MarciaSeligson talking about Los Angeles theater.

SEND EMAIL TO MARLENE ADLER MARKS
wvoice@aol.com

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