Jews living in a north London neighborhood are outraged that the local council has scheduled an election for Yom Kippur.
The election was triggered by the resignation of a Liberal Democrat councillor from the Alexandra ward. More than 300 Jews live in the ward, equivalent to 4 percent of the eligible voters.
“It’s a great shame,” Rabbi David Masson of the nearby Muswell Hill synagogue told the local Ham & High newspaper. “I haven’t seen an apology yet. It can’t take much for the council to get a calendar of the festivals.
“With all the complicated restrictions on the date, it puts it into ridicule,” the rabbi added. “And it’s not the first time this has happened. They have organized events and courses on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.”
Local Member of Parliament Lynne Featherstone said, “I feel very sad for the Jewish population…” She went on to say, “Anyone could tell you that Yom Kippur is the most high holiday. It’s not rocket science; you can find it in most calendars.
“It’s the sort of thing you don’t expect in Haringey, where everyone is supposed to be included, and here we find that the Jewish community is excluded.”
A council spokesman said, “We had little choice over the date. Under the rules, the window for the by-election was Sept. 30 to Oct. 10, excluding weekends.”
Elections are traditionally held Thursdays in Great Britian, and a change from this tradition could affect other segments of the electorate, the spokesman said. Those not able to vote on Election Day can send in a ballot early by mail.