Simon Rocker

Plan emerges for second new free school

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2016

The push to secure enough Jewish secondary school places in north-west London gathered pace this week as a second group revealed its ambition to launch a new school.

It follows last week's announcement that a private trust plans to open a Jewish free school, Kedem High, in the borough of Barnet next year.

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Local branch cuts will make driving easier for Cohanim

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2016

Most of us would not think twice about driving down Hoop Lane, the road linking Golders Green to Hampstead Garden Suburb.

But for a select group, it has been a religious hazard best avoided. Conscientious Cohanim have given it a wide berth because of the dangers of ritual impurity from the adjacent Jewish cemetery.

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Popping up in Belsize Park

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2016

You've heard of pop-up restaurants. Now there's the pop-up minyan.

Around 40 people attended an experimental Shabbat morning service in Belsize Park run by Rabbi Naftali and Dina Brawer.

Rabbi Brawer explained that the north-west London gathering grew out of conversations "with a lot of people who said they find davening and, in particular, the Shabbat morning service unfulfilling".

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Israel gift for oscar hopefuls

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2016

Israel can expect a gust of celebrities after the Oscars at the end of the month.

Nominees up for the main Academy Awards will receive a goody bag worth around £140,000.

The most valuable item is a 10-day, first-class trip to Israel worth £40,000, while other gifts include a walking tour of Japan, laser skin therapy and, for women contenders, an erotic toy.

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Stiller's cymbalic barmitzvah

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2016

Zoolander 2 star Ben Stiller certainly made sure his barmitzvah went with a bang - he played drums in his own band at the party. Its name was Capital Punishment and was an "avant garde, post-punk" outfit influenced by Eno and Bowie, he told The Graham Norton show on the BBC at the weekend. They even made an unreleased album called Roadkill.

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It's not quite cricket

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2016

Boys at Talmud Torah Kerem Shlomo in Salford, taking a closer look at a specimen of the eighth plague, were probably glad it didn't end up in their school dinner. But locusts are kosher.

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Orthodox school criticised by inspectors for not preparing pupils for life in modern Britain

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2016

Teachers at a Chasidic school painted over pictures of women in short-sleeved shirts because of religious sensitivities, inspectors have reported.

Talmud Torah Toldos Yaakov Yosef, an independent school for boys aged from 2 to 12 in Hackney, north London was criticised for failing to prepare pupils for “life in modern Britain”.

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JLC is ‘hopeless’ on women, its new VP admits

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

One of the Jewish Leadership Council’s new vice-presidents has criticised the organisation over the lack of women in its leadership.

Rabbi Baroness Neuberger said that the umbrella body had been “hopeless” on the issue.

The cross-bench peer, who is senior rabbi of West London Synagogue, was the only woman among the four vice-presidents announced by the JLC last Friday.

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Shul rebuild will exceed £12 million

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

South Hampstead Synagogue chairman David Turner has pledged that the shul will not borrow money to finance its rebuild, even though the cost is likely to rise beyond the projected
£12 million.

He also promised that there would be no "formal levy" on members to meet any additional outlay.

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School dinner goes down badly with parent of prospective pupil

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

North West London Jewish Day School has defended inviting parents who have applied for places for their children this year to a fundraising dinner.

One father said it was "inappropriate" for the state-aided Willesden primary to ask parents to the event while decisions on the offer of places for this autumn were pending.

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Liberals' choice is a Danish

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

Liberal Judaism has recruited another European congregation after approving the membership of the Shir HaTzafon community in Copenhagen.

It will join the Liberal Jewish Community of Amsterdam, which is an associate member, as LJ's second European group outside the UK and Ireland.

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Schools, places and politics

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

We have devoted a fair amount of space this week to the announcement of plans for a new state-aided Orthodox Jewish secondary school in Barnet.

The Kedem High School proposal seems to fit perfectly with the government’s free school scheme.

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Schools crisis: is this the answer?

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

The map of Jewish education in London is facing its most radical change in more than a decade, with plans to open one new state-aided Jewish secondary school and to relocate another.

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Hypnotic attraction on itv

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

Seeking romance on ITV's Saturday night dating show Take Me Out is ex-JCom (Jewish radio) presenter Ben Dali aka Ben Phillips.

The London-based hypnotist and magician's trip to the show's Tenerife date spot with Lotte from Stoke Newington will be shown this week.

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Labour’s turn with Mrs T

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

The Jewish Labour Movement elected its new guard on Tuesday with former Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark as chairman. Elections took place in Parliament's Portcullis House, though you might have thought they'd book a venue other than the Thatcher Room.

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Oscar Wilde refreshed

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

The interval was almost as good as Immanuel College's new production of The Importance of Being Earnest. The audience, fittingly for Oscar Wilde's classic English comedy, was treated to a full cream tea with cucumber sandwiches and chocolate eclairs. Lady Bracknell would have approved.

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Clubbable brit is dating hit

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

A Brit is one of the two most popular men on Jewish dating app JCrush.

Adam Paulden, 28, from London, was one of the "most crushed" bachelors on the app, the company announced this week.

The theatre and television producer, who identifies as "Jewish by culture," says that "a sense of humour is a must; usually a dark one. Intelligent. Good moral values. Someone quite active."

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Wogan, priests and rabbis

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

Sir Terry Wogan was warmly recalled by one rabbi who worked with him. Maidenhead Synagogue's Rabbi Jonathan Romain regularly did the "Pause for Thought" religion slot on the broadcaster's daily Radio 2 show.

"All the good things said about him are true," said Rabbi Romain. "He was as affable and full of bonhomie off air as he was on it."

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School defies DfE by continuing to expand

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

An Orthodox girls school in Hackney has continued to expand, despite being refused permission to take more pupils by the Department for Education.

The independent Bnois Jerusalem school in Hackney has 839 girls aged three to 16, although it is registered for 658, according to a new report by the inspection service Ofsted.

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A vital change, but prepare for a bumpy ride

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

For many parents, the proposed new Kedem secondary school cannot come a moment too soon. They want to avoid any repeat of last year's situation when a number of families could not send their child to a Jewish secondary school in north-west London.

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