Simon Rocker

Synagogue membership will no longer get your child a school place

By Simon Rocker, December 11, 2014

A Jewish secondary school has been told by a government quango that it can no longer use synagogue membership as one of its requirements for entry.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA), which regulates admissions, upheld a complaint against the cross-communal Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) in Barnet, north London.

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Downton comes to Limmud

By Simon Rocker, December 11, 2014

There will be a little piece of Downton Abbey at Limmud.

The producer of the ITV period drama, David Evans, who was nominated for an Emmy this year, will be giving a talk on his life at the educational conference later this month.

Mr Evans's attendance was revealed this week as details of the conference programme were released.

Former Labour Culture Minister and Mayor of London hopeful Da

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Shul bans fail to derail Israeli academic's tour

By Simon Rocker, December 11, 2014

The Zionist Federation claims a tour by Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar was a success, despite a further cancellation by one synagogue this week.

Dr Kedar was due to speak at three schools but they were pulled by the ZF after the Board of Deputies voiced concerns over his links to Pamela Geller, the anti-Islamist American activist banned from the UK last year.

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A free Jewish library to give to your children

By Simon Rocker, December 11, 2014

It is a few days before Chanucah but the children are already devouring latkes, The Golem's Latkes. The illustrated tale of pancake mayhem in old Prague is going down a treat with a class of five and six-year-olds at Michael Sobell Sinai Primary School in Kenton, north-west London.

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Beth Din names lawyer

By Simon Rocker, December 11, 2014

An arbitration lawyer with a leading City of London firm has been appointed to a new position at the London Beth Din to help manage divorce cases.

Joanne Greenaway will take up the role of case worker at the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis's rabbinic court, which deals with 110 to 120 divorce cases annually.

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Rabbi criticises Beth Din over women's Torah ban

By Simon Rocker, December 9, 2014

A senior United Synagogue rabbi has criticised its rabbinic authorities for stopping women from reading from the Torah.

As reported in last week’s JC, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the London Beth Din refused permission for a group of women at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue to leyn on Simchat Torah.

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Finchley Synagogue cancels talk by controversial academic Mordechai Kedar

By Simon Rocker, December 8, 2014

A leading United Synagogue has cancelled a talk tomorrow night by a controversial Israeli academic.

Dr Mordechai Kedar, of Bar-Ilan University, who is here on a speaking tour organised by the Zionist Federation, was due to speak at Finchley United Synagogue.

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Chasidic school impresses Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, December 8, 2014

An independent Chasidic school in Stamford Hill, north London, has received a glowing report from Ofsted.

Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass, which is run by the Belz Chasidic group with 533 boys aged from three to 16, was rated good overall.

The behaviour of pupils as well as the schools’ attention to their care and safety was ranked outstanding, as was its early years section.

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Schneider's hairy secret

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

David Schneider was one of the celebrities who joined Prince Harry's "feel no shame" campaign in support of Worlds Aid Day by recording a video revealing a secret. So what did the comedian bring out of his closet: the single hair that grows out of the top of his nose - "the rhinoceros hair", as he dubbed it.

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ZF cancels talks by lecturer with anti-Islamist links

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

The Zionist Federation this week cancelled appearances at three Jewish schools by an outspoken Israeli academic following concerns about his links to an anti-Islamist activist banned from Britain.

Dr Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Israeli Arabs who regularly appears to defend Israel on Arabic stations such as Al Jazeera, was due to begin a speaking tour on Wednesday night.

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Meet the Trotskyist anti-Zionist who saw the errors of his ways

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

Few authors oppose publication of their work. But retired Belgian lawyer Nathan Weinstock has refused any reprint of the book for which he is probably best known here.

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Mirvis bans women from reading Torah

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has ruled out women reading from the Sefer Torah as part of Orthodox services.

He made his view clear this week as it emerged that he had blocked women from one of his communities who wanted a women-only Torah reading on Simchat Torah.

Rabbi Mirvis said: "Our mesorah (tradition) sets out halachic lines and it is not my halachic view that women may read from a Sefer

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Schools will not be compelled to teach other faiths

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

The government has made clear that faith schools will not be forced to teach about other religions.

Representatives of Orthodox Jewish schools welcomed the assurances, which came in new guidelines on promoting British values in schools.

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Why British values could be a headache for schools

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

The fallout from the Trojan Horse inquiry into allegations of Islamic extremism in summer continued this week as the head of the inspection service Ofsted underlined the importance of promoting British values in schools.

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Warning over discrimination at work

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Jews are still suffering discrimination and bullying in the workplace because of their religion, according to the Board of Deputies.

More than 30 people have contacted the organisation in recent years with problems about leaving work early in winter for Shabbat, while teachers and others have had trouble taking time off for festivals.

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Is American Jewry on the edge of the abyss?

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Yosef Mendelevitch, who is coming to next month's Limmud conference, is one of the heroes of the refusenik movement who defied the oppressive yoke of Communism. His Jewish activism did not stop after his release from Soviet jail. He became an Orthodox rabbi in Israel, sporting a long, white beard.

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Workplace warning

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Jews are suffering discrimination in the workplace because of their religion, according to the Board of Deputies.

More than 30 people have contacted the organisation with problems about leaving work early in winter for Shabbat, while teachers and others have had trouble taking time off for festivals.

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A cheder where the fire still burns bright

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Ten-year-old Jack Lucas stands before the open Torah. He has just been challenged by South Hampstead Associate Rabbi Eli Levine to pick out any word he can from the forbidding rows of vowel-less black letters.

For a child who has never read blind from a Sefer, it is a tall order and would defeat many a United Synagogue parent.

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New Israel Fund pledges opposition to bill

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

The New Israel Fund will oppose the nation-state bill "in any form which seeks to alter the vision of Israel's founders and harm Israel's democratic character," said the chief executive of its UK branch, Adam Ognall.

The Office of the Chief Rabbi and the Jewish Leadership Council have declined to express a view on the bill.

But Mr Ognall argued that British Jewry should be at the "forefront

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Ofsted head will meet faith leaders over promoting British values in schools

By Simon Rocker, November 25, 2014

The head of inspection service Sir Michael Wilshaw today said he is to meet faith leaders as part of its drive to ensure that schools promote British values.

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