London’s New American-style Jw3 Community Center Opens To Great Expectations

Grand Opening: Models portraying Adam and Eve at the Genesis-themed opening of London’s JW3 Jewish community center.

If so, please share on iReport. (CNN) — People had to leap into the River Thames on Sunday after the amphibious tour boat taking them around London caught fire near Parliament. “There were flames, and there was lots of black smoke,” Phil Beasley-Harling, an eyewitness, told CNN affiliate ITV. “At one point, it looked as though the boat wasn’t going to survive.” Amateur video showed several passengers jumping into the water as flames and smoke billowed out from the windows at the front of the London Duck Tours boat, a bright yellow vehicle that takes sightseers around the British capital by road and river. After reports of the fire were received late Sunday morning, firefighters, a police helicopter and paramedics rushed to the scene. Several people were pulled from the water, and the blaze was eventually extinguished. Police said all 28 passengers and two crew members on board the vessel were safe. No one was seriously injured, and three people treated at a London hospital for “minor smoke inhalation ailments” have all been discharged, London Duck Tours said. Most of the people on board the boat were foreign tourists, ITV reported. The company and the London Fire Brigade both said the cause of the blaze, which damaged one third of the vessel, was so far unknown. River tours suspended Borough Cmdr. Alison Newcomb of London’s Metropolitan Police said that the maritime coast guard is investigating. “At the conclusion of that investigation, I anticipate they will make a decision with regards to future tours,” she told ITV.

Sorry, Im embarrassed, but weve only just moved into our offices, says Simonson, the 40-year-old boss of Londons first American-style JCC, which opened Sunday. Now the article will say New CEO cant even answer his own phone. With his credentials, Simonson can afford to be self-deprecating. The former director of the Jewish learning fest Limmud, Simonson steered the organization through the 2008 financial crisis, helping it to emerge as a vibrant global brand with an annual budget of $1.6 million that scholars of British Jewry call the flagship of a communal renaissance. Now he wants to do something similar with the new community center, a centrally located four-story behemoth called JW3 a play on the local postcode, NW3 which was built with a one-time $56 million grant by a single donor, the philanthropist Vivien Duffield. But with Duffield now stepping back from the organization, Simonson has to build a constituency among Londoners for a kind of Jewish institution with which they are largely unfamiliar. This is now for the community to decide if they truly want to keep the gift, Simonson told JTA. Duffield, the daughter of the late business magnate Charles Clore, initiated the project after visiting the JCC in Manhattan a decade ago and deciding that Londons approximately 200,000 Jews also should have a one-stop shop for all things Jewish. The London center has space for a kindergarten, movie theater, sports facilities, kosher restaurant and a library. All that space requires a paying customer base, and for the past two years, JW3s staff of 45 has been working to build one. A huge banner that says JW3 The New Postcode for Jewish Life hangs from the buildings facade. Simonson, a chummy Londoner who takes pride in his ginger facial hair (his Twitter handle is FatSideburns), aims to enroll 60,000 members the first year at a cost of $72 annually. JW3 has limited cash reserves, so if JW3 fails to attract a significant amount of paying members, Simonson says the organization will run out of money in about two years.