UK Reform Jews Cancel Trip to Israel

Twenty youth leaders from the British Reform movement, who were planning to fly to Israel yesterday morning, arrived at Heathrow airport to learn that their trip had been cancelled following British Foreign Office advice against "all non-essential travel" to Israel.

The Reform Synagogues of Great Britain sent the young people home because the updated travel advisory "invalidates many sources of travel insurance, life insurance and - crucially for us - public liability," Jeremy Kelly, the movement's fundraising director, told Haaretz. An additional solidarity trip for 50 adults from the British Reform movement, which was due to begin on Sunday, has also been cancelled.

Rabbi Tony Bayfield, chief executive of RSGB, who was scheduled to lead the trip, said he was very disappointed by its cancellation, but the invalidation of insurance for the trip left "no other option." He added that a new trip will be planned once the advice from the British government changes. An international conference of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, slated to begin in Haifa on Wednesday, was still going ahead last night.

The latest travel advisory from the British Foreign Office, which was issued on Wednesday afternoon, also warns British nationals to leave the West Bank and Gaza. A statement on the British Embassy Web site reads: "If already in Israel, you should maintain a high level of vigilance and consider whether your presence and that of your dependents is essential."