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Anger in Jewish community after council's by-election blunder

PUBLISHED: 12:36 22 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 07 September 2010

JEWISH people in Haringey are outraged after the council organised a by-election on the holiest day of the year, stopping them from voting. More than 300 Jewish residents, equivalent to four per cent of the ward, will be unable to vote in the Alexandra by

JEWISH people in Haringey are outraged after the council organised a by-election on the holiest day of the year, stopping them from voting.

More than 300 Jewish residents, equivalent to four per cent of the ward, will be unable to vote in the Alexandra by-election on October 9 as it has been planned on Yom Kippur.

On the holy day, Jews must fast for 25 hours and are unable to drive or write.

"It's a great shame. I haven't seen an apology yet. It can't take much for the council to get a calendar of the festivals," said Rabbi David Mason (pictured) at Muswell Hill Synagogue.

"With all the complicated restrictions on the date, it puts it into ridicule. And it's not the first time this has happened. They have organised events and courses on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath."

The by-election was called after Liberal Democrat councillor Wayne Hoban stepped down last month.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said: "I feel very sad for the Jewish population. It's unbelievable that once the council knew there was another date, they still refused to use it.

"Anyone could tell you that Yom Kippur is the most important high holy day. 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 September 30 to October 10, excluding weekends.

"Polling almost universally takes place on a Thursday and any departure from this could be problematic for a large proportion of the electorate.

"We hope that anyone who does not wish to vote in person will take advantage of postal voting.

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