Simon Rocker

'As gunmen came in, we hid in the cellar'

By Simon Rocker, August 22, 2014

Decimated by the Nazis and repressed under Stalin, Jews in Ukraine have been rebuilding their communal life over the past two decades since the collapse of Communism.

But now many face an uncertain future as fighting continues in the east of the country between government forces and pro-Russia separatists.

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Stamford Hill school scores well with Ofsted inspectors

By Simon Rocker, August 21, 2014

A Chasidic girls' primary school in Stamford Hill has impressed Ofsted inspectors.

Bnos Zion of Bobov, an independent school for 158 girls aged from three to 12 serving the Bobov Chasidic community, was rated good after a visit from Ofsted, with the behaviour and care of pupils found to be outstanding.

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Women wait for cash to save equality bid

By Simon Rocker, August 15, 2014

A campaign to improve equality for women in Jewish organisations is waiting to see if it will get further financial support from the Jewish Leadership Council.

Women in Jewish Leadership had expected a grant of £15,000 from the JLC for a second year, matching a similar pledge from the Board of Deputies.

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Equality commission launches survey on religion

By Simon Rocker, August 14, 2014

The Equality and Human Rights Commission wants to find out more about whether people’s religious practices are being respected at work.

There are existing laws to prevent discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

But the commission says that little is known how often issues relating to religion crop up in the workplace.

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Jews join Iraq protest at Downing Street

By Simon Rocker, August 14, 2014

A group of Jews joined a demonstration outside Downing Street yesterday to highlight the threat facing minorities in Iraq from Islamic State jihadists.

Members of Harif, the association for Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, were part of a 500-strong protest organised by Solidarity Against Isis (the previous name of Islamic State).

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Dark story behind the festival of love

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2014

Tu b’Av, which falls today, is probably the least-known festival on the Jewish calendar. Probably only regular daveners of shacharit will notice because the prayers of supplication which would normally be said that morning are omitted.

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Man refused wife a get but stalked her

By Simon Rocker, August 7, 2014

A property developer from Golders Green who has refused his estranged wife a get has been found guilty of stalking her.

Yossi Elkoubi was convicted at Willesden Magistrates Court last Friday of behaviour amounting to harassment of Rifka Meyer, to whom he was married in a religious but not a civil ceremony in 2009. They have been separated for two years.

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Mick Davis: why it's right to back Israel

By Simon Rocker, August 7, 2014

Jewish Leadership Council chairman Mick Davis, strongly defended Israel's campaign in an article in the Sunday Times.

He wrote that every "right-thinking person" should side with Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

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Outrage as anti-Hamas ad rejected

By Simon Rocker, August 7, 2014

The Times has rejected a pro-Israel advertisement which carries a denunciation of Hamas by Shoah survivor and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, co-producer of the advert - headlined "Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it is Hamas's turn" - said he was shocked at the newspaper's decision to refuse it.

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Deputies back JLC

By Simon Rocker, July 31, 2014

More members of the Board of Deputies support unification with the Jewish Leadership Council than oppose the idea, according to a new survey.

Almost half, 49 per cent, backed a merger with the JLC with 41 per cent opposed and 10 per cent undecided.

But consultants hired to gauge opinion warned that the process of unification could be "slower than previously anticipated".

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British values in the classroom

By Simon Rocker, July 31, 2014

Jewish schools have been briefed on guidelines to promote British values and respect for equality, which come into force next term.

Sara Perlmutter, the Board's education policy and projects manager, believes the schools will be able to cope with the changes "if they are prepared with the right guidance and get up to speed".

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Ofsted tells 'inadequate' school: must do better

By Simon Rocker, July 31, 2014

Ofsted inspectors have strongly criticised a Yiddish-speaking Chasidic school in Stamford Hill for providing an "inadequate" education.

Talmud Torah Chaim Meirim Wiznitz - a primary school for 242 boys aged mainly from five to 13 which is associated with the Vishnitz sect - was instructed to make improvements after an emergency inspection in January.

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Obama picks rabbi as faith ambassador

By Simon Rocker, July 31, 2014

American President Barack Obama has turned to one of the world's leading Reform rabbis to be his advocate for religious freedom across the world.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Centre, the American Reform movement's social action and justice arm, was nominated this week as an ambassador-at-large.

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Ofsted inspectors drop in on JFS campus without warning

By Simon Rocker, July 25, 2014

The country's largest Jewish school was the subject of an unannounced inspection from Ofsted earlier this month, the JC has learned.

But neither JFS nor the inspection service would divulge the reason for the two-day visit.

Ofsted would say only that the inspection had been prompted by "concerns" it had received.

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'Hate' in Amnesty email

By Simon Rocker, July 24, 2014

Amnesty International has been accused of sending out an email "filled with hate, lies, distorted facts and misrepresentation of reality" by a relative of one of the 3 Israeli teenagers murdered on the West Bank last month, after its UK crisis campaigns manager appealed to supporters to lobby against arms sales to Israel.

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Former Carmel College teacher accused of sexual abuse

By Simon Rocker, July 24, 2014

A former teacher at Carmel College has been charged with sexual abuse while working at the now closed public school.

Trevor Bolton, 77, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, was arrested in June last year on suspicion of four counts of indecency with a child and five counts of indecent assault on a male.

He was charged last Thursday and released on bail to appear at Oxford Crown Court next week.

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The Gaza split

By Simon Rocker, July 24, 2014

The rising death toll in Gaza has led to a political split in the UK with David Cameron's staunch support of Israel's right to self-defence in stark contrast to criticism from Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.

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Keeping faith: verdict on Michael Gove the departing education secretary

By Simon Rocker, July 24, 2014

Such has been Michael Gove’s support for British Jewry that there can hardly be a major communal organisation that has not had him as a speaker since he became a cabinet minister four years ago. This “proud Zionist” even paid his first visit to Israel last year, finally overcoming his fear of flying.

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App that answers a traveller's prayers

By Simon Rocker, July 24, 2014

It's a problem faced by many an observant traveller.

You are saying Kaddish but you have a plane to catch and you wonder if there is somehow a way to find a minyan to pray with at the airport before the flight leaves.

Now an app launched last week will alert to you to any other potential fellow-daveners up to 10-minutes away from you.

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Birmingham school probe finds anti-Israel views

By Simon Rocker, July 22, 2014

An investigation into allegations of Islamist extremism in Birmingham has found that some teachers harboured anti-Israel views.

Education Commissioner Peter Clarke, in a report published today, uncovered no evidence of radicalisation or violent extremism.

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