Simon Rocker

Thousands join in challah bake as Shabbat UK gets off to a triumphant start

By Simon Rocker, October 24, 2014

More than 3,000 women – and a few men – gave an extraordinary start to the Chief Rabbi’s Shabbat UK by joining in a mass challah bake in London last night.

The response was so great that there were nearly 800 on the waiting list for the date with the dough at Allianz Park in London, home of Saracens Rugby Club.

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PM and political leaders voice support for Shabbat UK

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

More than 7,000 people are expected to take part in mass challah-making sessions in 26 locations around the UK as a prelude to Shabbat UK, the national Sabbath celebration launched by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this weekend.

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Masorti approves single-sex marriages

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

British Masorti has followed the Liberals and Reform movements by taking a historic decision to allow its rabbis to conduct same-sex marriages.

Gay couples will now be able to marry in Masorti synagogues in a move approved without opposition by the movement's trustees on Tuesday night.

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School faces closure threat

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

One of the largest Chasidic schools in London has been warned it could face closure if it does not improve provision for pupils' welfare, health and safety.

Inspectors found arrangements at the independent Talmud Torah Yetev Lev, in Stamford Hill, unsatisfactory after an unannounced visit in June.

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Faith schools' battle over British values

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

Over the past few weeks, we have reported growing concerns about a possible backlash against faith schools, following the so-called "Trojan Horse" inquiry into Islamist indoctrination in a number of state schools this summer.

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Masorti makes history as rabbis approve same-sex marriage

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2014

The British Masorti movement has followed the Liberals and Reform by taking a historic decision to allow its rabbis to conduct same-sex marriages.

Gay and lesbian couples will now be able to marry in Masorti synagogues in a move approved without opposition by the movement’s trustees last night.

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He bloodied an Oxford nose

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2014

Brasenose went down to one of the heaviest University Challenge defeats suffered by an Oxford college when it was whopped 250 points to 35 by Durham in a first-round tie last week.

Former Durham J-Soc treasurer Daniel Morgan-Thomas, 21, led the way, answering seven starter questions correctly. The third-year historian and classicist from London said he was a lifelong fan of the show.

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Israeli MK to launch Cambridge Jewish centre

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2014

The founder of a secular yeshivah in Israel is to officially open a cross-communal Jewish education centre started by an Orthodox rabbi in Cambridge.

Ruth Calderon, who has promoted the study of classical Jewish texts for all Israelis and is also a Yesh Latid MK, will lecture at the Cambridge Lehrhaus on Sunday.

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Cryer has them in tears at JW3 birthday dinner

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2014

The JW3 community centre celebrated its first anniversary with a fundraising dinner which was short on speeches and long on entertainment.

Topping the line-up on Monday night was the veteran British comedy writer Barry Cryer, who described himself as "virilently pro-semitic".

He was in conversation with TV producer Dan Patterson, creator of Mock the Week.

JW3 founder, the philanthropist D

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Shoah on the Roadshow

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2014

A fascinating piece of Holocaust history emerged on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

Sunday's episode was filmed at Scone Castle in Perthshire, where one of the items brought for valuation was a portrait of Dr Tina Strobos.

Dr Strobos hid Jews in Amsterdam during the war, was a member of the Dutch resistance and a friend of Jewish artist Martin Monnickendam, who found time to paint her.

The p

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Oligarchs at war

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2014

A business dispute involving three Ukrainian Jewish billionaires is heading for a showdown at the High Court in London.

Igor Kolomoisky, who has emerged as a significant political figure in Ukraine in recent months, and British-based Gennadiy Bogolyubov have been sued by the third man, Victor Pinchuk.

The case, which is unlikely to come to court until well into next year but has already cost

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Chabad 'army' salutes British achievements

By Simon Rocker, October 2, 2014

It is 20 years since the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, died. But the outreach enterprise he launched continues to flourish with 3,000 centres and 4,000 emissaries in around 80 countries.

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Snap Ofsted visit to 'good' girls' school

By Simon Rocker, October 2, 2014

A second state-aided Jewish school within a month has lost its "outstanding" ranking after an unannounced visit from Ofsted inspectors.

Yesodey Hatorah, a Chasidic school in Hackney, north London, which teaches 331 girls aged from 11-16, has been reclassified as "good" - the second highest of four inspection grades.

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Rabbis and congregants enthused by October's global Shabbos project

By Simon Rocker, October 2, 2014

When members of Barnet Synagogue in north London went to shul over Rosh Hashanah, they found pledge cards on their seats.

But this was not an appeal for money.

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Faith lacking in religious studies plan

By Simon Rocker, October 2, 2014

Not for the first time, faith leaders have sounded the alarm over GCSE religious studies.

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The Princess of Lanzarote

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2014

There is a flutter of excitement by the pain au chocolat as a little blonde girl tugs her mother’s arm, “Look!” A giant duck has wandered into the breakfast room. Kiko, the mascot of the Princesa Yaiza hotel in Lanzarote, has started his morning tour, a yellow pied-piper rounding up recruits for the children’s club.

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Man who is turning Stamford Hill into a real land of milk and honey

By Simon Rocker, September 23, 2014

Stamford Hill has never been known as a land flowing with milk and honey. But one little corner is just that - Joseph Schneck's back garden.

As far as he is aware, he is the only Charedi bee-keeper in London, selling honey from his hives.

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Celebrities sign up to the Chief's Shabbat project

By Simon Rocker, September 23, 2014

Chief Rabbi Mirvis's Shabbat UK event, set to take place in four weeks, has received endorsement from celebrities.

Actress Maureen Lipman, radio presenter Vanessa Feltz and singer-songwriter Alex Clare have recorded promotional videos, encouraging participation in Shabbat activities.

More than 100 synagogues, school and other groups are planning events to enhance celebration and observance o

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'Don't shut out those with qualms on Gaza'

By Simon Rocker, September 23, 2014

A senior United Synagogue rabbi said this week that the community should not shut out Jews who had qualms about Israeli actions in Gaza.

Hampstead Synagogue's Rabbi Michael Harris, speaking at a conference on modern Orthodoxy in London, said that he had felt "uneasy throughout the past summer that the community's official bodies were making no room for people who had moral qualms about some of

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New Sephardi leader is 'good news'

By Simon Rocker, September 23, 2014

A string quartet greeted guests as they entered the historic candlelit sanctuary of Bevis Marks.

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