Simon Rocker's blog

We have an archbishop, but not a chief rabbi

By Simon Rocker, November 8, 2012

The new Archbishop of Canterbury will be formally named tomorrow - who is expected to be the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby.

It took the Anglican Church eight months to choose their next head after Rowan Williams announced he was stepping down in March.


Making the case for the Bible

By Simon Rocker, October 11, 2012

It’s back to Bereshit this week as the Torah reading cycle begins anew. While the stories may be familiar, what has kept them fresh is the belief that there are always new insights to be gleaned.


Orient, here we come

By Simon Rocker, August 24, 2012

Next month's strictly Orthodox rally in London on the dangers of the internet has proved so popular that the organisers have had to move it from Alexandra Palace to Leyton Orient's football stadium.

American Charedim have used sports stadia to stage events in the past but this is the first time I can recall that one has been hired in the UK.


Kosher Mistress?

By Simon Rocker, July 19, 2012

Israel Hayom reports: “The Chief Judge of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel, has ruled that in cases where a man has not fathered any children, and his wife cannot or does not want to bear children, the man may take a concubine.”
Click to read more


Why rabbis should get on their bikes

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2012

The first Rabbis Relay Ride which ended recently appears to have been a great success, raising £30,000 for charity.

More than 20 rabbis took the saddle at various stages along the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

What was significant is that the participants embraced representatives from across the board, Orthodox, Reform, Liberal and Masorti.


The Chief Rabbi on gay marriage: silence not an option

By Simon Rocker, July 6, 2012

The Chief Rabbi has come under fire for his opposition to civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples (see our front-page story this week).


Should the Chief Rabbi stay on?

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2012

An online petition has been started calling for the Chief Rabbi to stay on beyond his scheduled retirement date. Lord Sacks is planning to move on after 21 years in office in September 2013, six months after his 65th birthday.


GCSE antisemitism: the hidden question

By Simon Rocker, June 1, 2012

There has been a sharp divergence of opinion among Jewish educators about the wisdom of the question set in a GCSE religious studies exam this year, “Explain, briefly, why some people are prejudiced against Jews”.


Should Orthodox deputies cover their heads?

By Simon Rocker, May 24, 2012

One of the novelties of the vice-presidential elections at the Board of Deputies on Sunday was that they were live-streamed, enabling web spectators to follow events.


Deadly comments

By Simon Rocker, May 14, 2012

Last week’s Torah portion of Emor ended with the unhappy of a story of a man who was stoned for cursing God.

Despite the biblical precedent, however, the rabbis, always reluctant to impose the death penalty, later made it extremely difficult to convict for blasphemy.


Keep me a seat in the Lords

By Simon Rocker, April 26, 2012

A parliamentary committee this week backed the government’s proposal that in future members of the House of Lords should be restricted to a maximum 15 years’ service.

But in his submission on Lords reform, the Chief Rabbi Sacks says that those chosen to represent faith communities should be made life peers “so as to encourage continuity of contribution”.


Lord Sacks and the Whale

By Simon Rocker, March 13, 2012

I’ve heard quite a few people comment on the Chief Rabbi’s recent Jewish Book Week conversation with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

I can't see that the Chief dropped any theological bombshells, although he did say, when asked about Jonah and the Whale, “No one has ever read these stories in the Jewish tradition literally.”


Moral capitalism and the collapse of Jabe

By Simon Rocker, February 15, 2012

It is ironic when Prime Minister David Cameron and others have been talking of the need for moral capitalism that the Jewish Association for Business Ethics has folded owing to lack of funds.

JABE successfully exported Jewish ideas on ethical practice to schools and offices well beyond the Jewish community.


Vegetable Men and Mystery Monsters

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2012

The mind boggles at what some Jewish children are taught. Take a look at this blog from Rationalist Judaism (Rabbi Natan Slifkin).


“The most interesting thing happening in Jewish life”

By Simon Rocker, January 24, 2012

Read David Hazony, guest at last month’s Limmud conference, on why the event is not just a winter retreat, but a revolution with far-reaching implications for the Jewish world.


Should batmitzvah girls be called to the Torah?

By Simon Rocker, January 23, 2012

You may have read our story in Friday’s newspaper about a United Synagogue member asking the London Beth Din whether there are circumstances in which a woman could be called to the Torah.


Sacks challenged over interfaith views

By Simon Rocker, January 20, 2012

A number of rabbis here have been talking about an article in the latest edition of Tradition, the American journal of Orthodox thought published by the mainstream Rabbinical Council of America.

It is written by Alan Jotkowitz, who is director of the Jakobovits Centre for Medical Ethics at Ben Gurion University, and is a critique of the interfaith views of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.


'The Orthodox World is Being Overtaken by Extremism'

By Simon Rocker, January 6, 2012

A very powerful statement on the recent religious clashes in Israel from Rabbi Shaul Robinson of Lincoln Square Synagogue, New York (considered one of the favourites for UK Chief Rabbi, should, of course, he be interested in the job).


An Israeli yeshivah head’s view of Limmud

By Simon Rocker, January 6, 2012

Rabbi Herzl Hefter, head of Harel Yeshiva in Israel reflects on his recent appearance at Limmud in his weekly email letter:


Secular Israelis like ‘Mixed Multitude’

By Simon Rocker, January 5, 2012

A very disturbing post on the latest religious unrest in Israel on the website Failed Messiah.