Religion news 20 August 2021

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Beth Din agrees no role for rabbis over ‘coercive control’

The London Beth Din (rabbinical court) has distanced itself from the Federation of Synagogues over new legislation relating to religious divorce. It says it is not for the rabbis to “decide whether a man is breaking the law or not”. The Jewish Chronicle reports that the move follows the Home Office’s firm stance against an initial proposal from the batei din that they should be allowed to determine — via the statutory guidance on the act — whether coercive control has been exercised by a person refusing to allow a get (religious divorce). A Whitehall source is quoted saying that ministers had been lobbied extensively, but that the idea that only someone who has been declared recalcitrant by a beth din can be considered to be a source of coercive control was met with “incredulity” by ministers and the proposal was “strongly rebuffed”. The statutory guidance on domestic abuse, which includes a section on Jewish religious divorce and two case studies of women who have been refused a get, has been out for consultation since 3 August and is scheduled to close on 14 September. Any member of the public with a view on the issue is able to respond online.

Gallery changes its mind over removing ‘one-sided’ anti-Israel line from exhibit

Manchester University’s Whitworth Art Gallery is to reinstate a controversial statement about Israel at one of its exhibitions after the artists, Forensic Architecture, threatened to pull their work. The gallery had come under fire for a statement which preceded its Cloud Studies exhibition, which included what it said was the environmental impact of Israel’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank. The statement, which speaks of “struggle against apartheid” and “settler colonial violence”, was to be removed after UK Lawyers for Israel suggested it could encourage antisemitism. Jewish News says there had been a U-turn and it was now due to be reinstated and the exhibition continued in full.

Invitation to inaugural London Interfaith Fun Run

Hundreds of runners and spectators from across London’s diverse faith and belief communities will be taking part in the inaugural London Interfaith Fun Run on August Bank Holiday Monday. The family friendly event at Stone X Stadium, Barnet, in north London is promising to be fun, personally challenging and an opportunity to raise money for 30 London charities. Runners can choose between 5km or 10km routes or run with friends in the 1km route. The event is being organised by The Faith & Belief Forum and Maccabi GB with support from Dangoor Education, Greater London Lieutenancy’s Council of Faith and other sponsors. Further details and sign up

Death of Rabbi Richard Hirsch, 95, world leader in progressive Judaism

Rabbi Richard Hirsch, one of the world’s foremost advocates for Reform Jewry and Progressive Judaism and a former long-time leader of the Progressive Movement in Israel, has died in Florida. He was 95. As the first director of the Religious Action Center, Rabbi Hirsch spent the 1960s bringing Jews and black communities closer in advancing civil rights in the United States. He spent the rest of his life bringing Reform Jews closer to Israel in advancing Zionism.

Pope Francis gets a new football table

The soccer-loving Pope Francis has been given a new toy — a football table, the Associated Press reports. Pope Francis played a round on the table after he was presented with it at the end of his general audience by representatives of a Tuscany-based table football association, Sport Toscana Calcio Balilla in Altopascio. Francis, a supporter of San Lorenzo football club in Buenos Aires, he has long promoted sport as a way to promote solidarity and inclusion, especially for young people.

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