Simon Rocker's blog

Palestinian leader says Quran acknowledges Jewish links with Israel

By Simon Rocker, June 11, 2010

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told American Jewish leaders in Washington that the Quran recognises Jewish ties to the land of Israel, according to The Forward.
When questioned about his comments by Al-Jazeera, he replied: “Jews are there, and when you read the Holy Koran you have it there. That’s what I said.”
For background: see my JC piece last year


Magnificent Hendon

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2010

An obit of Lady J has just been posted on the Telegraph Online which concludes:

"The Hespedim (or eulogies) in her honour, following her death on May 7, were delivered before a crowd of 5,000 mourners on the streets of Hendon's magnificent Shirehall estate..."

Shirehall magnificent? Not an adjective I would think you could use for any part of Hendon.


The Great Shul-School Test

By Simon Rocker, May 21, 2010

If Jewish schools are doing their job, then one visible effect should be increasing synagogue attendance over Yomtov.
More and more parents are opting to send their children to Jewish schools: and since they are spared the dilemma of whether to send them school on festivals, shul is the obvious place to for them to go.
But is that actually happening in practice? I'd be interested to know.


"Someone is going to get killed"

By Simon Rocker, May 6, 2010

A disturbing portrait of religious intolerance in Israel from the blog of Rabbi Natan Slifkin, the famous "Zoo Rabbi":


No brief for Zionism

By Simon Rocker, May 4, 2010

The Jewish Tribune, the self-styled "voice of Anglo-Jewish Orthodoxy", carried this editor's footnote to a letter last week:

"Being the 'Voice of Anglo-Jewish Orthodoxy' does not mean we are obligated to accept anything the state of Israel does uncritically. We are frequently at odds with its treatment of the Charedi community and hold no brief for Zionism in any of its incarnations."


The Mice and the Rabbi in the Cupboard

By Simon Rocker, April 28, 2010

I came across a reference on a blog to people keeping Reb Shayale in their cupboards to ward off mice.
I confess to not having the foggiest idea of what this meant, so I googled it up.
And for those similarly perplexed, here is the answer courtesy of the


Sex abuse in the yeshivah world

By Simon Rocker, April 26, 2010

While the Vatican continues to reel from revelations of priestly child abuse, closer to home a number of court cases have exposed alleged paedophilia in the strictly Orthodox world.
In a much commented-on blogpost, the Orthodox scholar Marc Shapiro has offered insight into why its incidence was previously covered up.
This is what Professor Shapiro writes (on the Seforim blog, see footnote 8 to the entry for April 15):


The late, late Yom Ha'atzmaut

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2010

For some, two days Yomtov is one day too many. But could the Israeli Embassy here be going even further by extending Yom Ha'atzamut to a fourth day?

Israel officially celebrated its independence on Tuesday - but the London embassy's annual knees-up for its friends was taking place today.

We await Rav Prosor's explanation.


Cameron leaves out Israel

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2010

The Movement for the Reform Judaism has invited the leaders of the three main parties to state their case on the movement's website.

First off is David Cameron and, interestingly, he makes no mention of Israel.

Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg's messages will appear over the next few days.


A Vanishing Rabbi Reconsiders

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2010

I recently pointed out the seemingly unusually high incidence of vacant United Synagogue pulpits. Well, one of the departing rabbis, Natan Levy, has reconsidered his planned exit and decided to remain with his community, Shenley for another year (after which he intends to make aliyah with his family - which is good for Israel but a loss for British Jewry).


A biblical tip for healthy Pesach eating

By Simon Rocker, April 1, 2010

As it says in the Book of Joshua, the Israelites celebrated Pesach not only with matzot but parched ie barbecued corn.

A lot healthier than the over-sugared diet in which many of us indulge nowadays.


Vanishing rabbis

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

As we report in our Community section in this week's issue, another United Synagogue pulpit is about to become vacant.

Belmont's Rabbi Daniel Roselaar is leaving his full-time post for a part-time role at the United's new Alei Tzion community in Hendon.

Belmont now joins Shenley, Hampstead Garden Suburb and Radlett in the search for a new rabbi.

I can't remember such a cluster of vacancies occurring that have not been caused by retirement.


Let them eat beans

By Simon Rocker, March 22, 2010

There is a growing lobby to rescind the ban on kitniot for Ashkenazim over Pesach - as this article which appeared in our Passover supplement explains:


The Bread of Affliction

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord....

They must have been doing their Pesach shopping.

"The bills are quite steep this year," Rabbi Julian Schindler, of the Chief Rabbi's marriage authorisation office, told the United Synagogue council this week. Having just been to the shops, he now understood the meaning of Ha Lachma Anya, the Bread of Afflication....


happy birthday

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2010

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, who is regarded the world's foremost strictly Orthodox leader, is celebrating his 100th birthday in Israel.
A hundertundzwantzig!


Another attack on converts

By Simon Rocker, March 8, 2010

As if there were not enough controversy over conversions already, here is yet another way to make converts feel like second-class citizens.

Ha’aretz reports on a Knesset bill being proposed by David Rotem, MK for the Yisrael Beteinu.

“The bill proposes that the Law of Return only be applicable to Jews or their offspring, and not to non-Jews who opted to convert - even if the conversion follows Orthodox procedure in line with state religious courts in Israel,” the newspaper says.


The Choosing People

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2010

“The traditional Jewish community, bounded by a combination of external hostility and limitations and internal comfort and familiarity, has had its walls battered, breached and broken, not so much by antisemitism but rather by the winds of sociological change. We are now free to come and go as we please.
“…In many respects, we are no longer a chosen people, compelled by God, or fate, or history to be part of the Jewish community, but rather a choosing people, deciding day-by-day, minute-by-minute whether or not we want our Jewishness to inform our lives.”


Sex, faith and Mr Balls

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2010

Schools Secretary Ed Balls may have come under fire this week for making too many concessions to faith schools over sex education.

But the reality is, it doesn't seem all that clear precisely how the national guidelines will play out in the classroom.

While religious schools will not be able to opt out of requirements to teach "sex and relationships education", they will be able to present it according to their own religious values. However, Mr Balls stressed, they will not be able to teach their views of their own faith alone.


After book-burning comes computer-smashing

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2010

Sacred vandalism, 21st-century style: a rabbi destroying a computer, which you can watch on the website Yeshivah World.


An eye for an eye? A no for no.

By Simon Rocker, February 23, 2010

In a comment piece on Express Online, Chris Royford-Davis led the cheers for the Dubai assassination widely believed to be Mossad's handiwork.

His article, entitled “Why Can’t This Country Follow Israel’s Lead” included the paragraph: