Simon Rocker

Ambassador's fears over declining support for Israel

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2014

Britain’s Israel Ambassador Matthew Gould has dismissed the idea that better advocacy would improve Israel’s standing in the Western world.

In a lecture in London in which he voiced fears of a growing erosion of sympathy with Israel, he said: “I don’t think this is primarily a failure of hasbarah, a failure of public diplomacy.”

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UK religious leaders condemn synagogue attack

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury and a senior Muslim leader have co-signed a letter with the Chief Rabbi in today’s Times condemning the murder of five Israelis in a synagogue this week.

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A new attempt to solve the who-is-a-Jew crisis

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

It is not every day that diaspora Jews are encouraged by Israelis to intervene in their country's affairs. But a few weeks ago an advertisement in this newspaper urged readers to petition the Israeli government.

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What the doctor ordered

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

Fame has fallen on Dr Phil Moss, emergency room director of St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, whose department features in 24 Hours in A&E on Thursday nights.

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Wall women grateful for mini-Torah from the UK

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

A tiny Sefer Torah loaned from Britain is playing its part in a campaign by women to hold prayer services at the Western Wall.

The Women of the Wall group are officially prohibited from using a Sefer Torah by the site's rabbinical authorities.

But last month they smuggled in the Sefer for a batmitzvah - and they plan to use it again for another on Sunday, which coincides with Rosh Chodesh, t

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Synagogue to hold first single-sex wedding

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

When Paul Ginsberg and Eli Kaufman step under the chupah at Finchley Reform Synagogue on Sunday, they could be making history.

The couple are thought to be the first to have a same-sex Jewish wedding in a synagogue in this country.

Mr Ginsberg, 35, who works at the Royal Society of Arts, met Mr Kaufman, 32, an operations manager at a driving performance centre, who is originally from Israel,

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Poll reveals children's fear of other faiths

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

One in 10 children in primary schools thinks that people who are religious, or from a different religion from their own, are "dangerous", according to a survey.

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the Bible Society, also found that nearly three in four teachers believe the education system could do more to tackle inter-religious strife by changing children's attitudes.

More than 25 per cent

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Jewish schools make you feel more British

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

At a time when fears of religious extremism have led to a renewed emphasis on teaching British values in schools, here is an interesting piece of research.

Children at Jewish secondary schools have actually strengthened their sense of Britishness in their first two years at school.

It is a striking finding from the most extensive survey of Jewish schooling ever undertaken in this country.

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Fresh claims made of exam censorship

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

A strictly Orthodox school has come under renewed attack from secular campaigners for reportedly stopping girls from answering exam questions.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has written to Ofsted and the Department for Education, calling for an inquiry into the state-aided Yesodey Hatorah Girls High School in Hackney, North London.

The NSS complained about the school last year when it e

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Nationality Law 'may stain Israel in eyes of free world'

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

The British Reform movement has criticised a controversial bill before the Knesset which seeks to reinforce Israel's Jewish character.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed the planned Nationality Law, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has forced a postponement of the vote due to have taken place on Sunday.

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Board of Deputies approves Yachad membership

By Simon Rocker, November 16, 2014

The Board of Deputies has approved the membership of Yachad, the campaign group which lobbies for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such was the controversy surrounding the application that a decision had twice been previously postponed.

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US chief mulled move to block Yachad at Board

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2014

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack considered warning members of the Board of Deputies to vote against the admission of the campaign group Yachad, over its "unacceptable activities", it has been revealed.

In an email seen by the JC, Mr Pack said he had been pressed to write to representatives of US congregations on the Board to oppose Yachad's application.

But he told the JC on Wednesda

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Russian philanthropists bound for London

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2014

A delegation of leading Russian Jewish philanthropists is to visit London this weekend to discuss business and charity-giving with representatives of British Jewry.

Mikhail Mirilashvili, God Nisanov, German Khan and Mikhal Fridman were due to arrive on Thursday night with their families to spend Shabbat here.

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West London's same-sex ties

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

West London Synagogue is expecting to hold its first same-sex wedding within the actual synagogue next month, with one of its rabbis among the celebrating couples.

Previously, a civil same-sex marriage was held in the Reform shul's hall, while another couple had a religious wedding in an outside venue conducted under the synagogue's auspices.

Simon Myers, WLS executive director, said, "We ca

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Golders Green service raises the stakes

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

An Orthodox partnership minyan - where women can read from the Torah and lead certain parts of the service - has begun in a third location in London.

Around 100 men, women and children attended the Golders Green partnership minyan, which took place at the Jewish Vegetarian Society last Shabbat morning.

It follows the establishment of similar ventures in Elstree a year ago and in Hampstead.

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Despite opposition, this is a trend that's not going away

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

It is less than a year-and-a-half since the UK's first openly advertised a partnership minyan, where Orthodox women could enjoy a public role in the prayer service.

Before then, such gatherings were virtually underground activities, below the rabbinic radar.

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Limmud date for hijack plot refusenik

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

One of the most famous Prisoners of Zion who defied the Soviet regime to be allowed to go to Israel is to speak at the Limmud education conference next month.

Yosef Mendelevich, now a rabbi, will share a platform with another refusenik, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who will be returning after his conference debut in 2013.

Rabbi Mendelevich was jailed for his part in a plot to hija

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Boards face questions over exam remarks

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

When Aron Jacobs, 16, a pupil at JFS, received his GCSE results this summer, he was not entirely satisfied. He decided to challenge the grades he received in two subjects, English language and geography.

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Hackney girls' school criticised by inspectors

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

Inspectors have said that a strictly Orthodox girls school in Hackney should not be allowed to expand because of weaknesses in its welfare, health and safety arrangements and problems with its premises.

Bnois Jerusalem in Stamford Hill, North London, which has 780 girls on its roll from 3 to 16, applied last year to the education authorities for permission to expand to 850.

The school alread

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Well suited to science

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

The cutting edge of Israeli science was shared with a select band of London diners by the Friends of Bar Ilan University last week.

Professor Ido Bachelet outlined research being done in the university's faculty of life sciences which, he said, "could revolutionise everything we know as medicine".

His team is developing tiny robots which could be injected into a patient to destroy cancer cel

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