Simon Rocker

Pioneers experience Feelgood factor

By Simon Rocker, August 18, 2016

One day last year, Chris Fenwick, manager of legendary rhythm-and-blues band Dr Feelgood, was on the beach on Canvey Island where four of its most famous sons had shot the cover of the debut Dr Feelgood album, Down By The Jetty.

He noticed a couple of men standing by who were clearly visitors, given that they were in full Chasidic dress.

More..

Top Marx is commonsense Reformer

By Simon Rocker, August 18, 2016

One institution you might not expect the Reform movement to highlight is the mikveh. But its new chairman enthuses about the prospective renovation of the ritual bath at its Sternberg Centre headquarters in Finchley.

"If you have got something to celebrate, go and immerse yourself," Geoffrey Marx says.

More..

Sound guide to Israel's diverse voices

By Simon Rocker, August 18, 2016

From the pop-pop of matkot, Israeli beach tennis, on the shores of Tel Aviv to the call to prayer from a Jerusalem muezzin, a number of summer camps for Jewish youth groups have been listening to the sounds of Israel -without actually being there.

They have been using a new audio resource, i-israel: sounds and visions, designed by the youth network Reshet to support informal educational activit

More..

UJIA launches new sixth form scheme

By Simon Rocker, August 18, 2016

UJIA has launched a new programme for sixth formers to gain a more in-depth knowledge of Israel.

A select group of 15 to 20 school students will be chosen to take part on the year-long Israel Fast Track course which begins next month.

It will feature a series of Sunday afternoon sessions, two residential weekends in the UK and an intensive seminar in Israel over half-term in 2017.

Robin M

More..

The woman with the 'best job in the world'

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2016

The head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the body which is charged with advancing equality and countering discrimination knows first-hand the problems women face in trying to get to the top.

More..

Friday night's all right for dining

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2016

A couple of years ago I wondered whether Friday Night Dinner, Robert Popper's Jewish family comedy, had run out of steam and our reviewer Jennifer Lipman thought it more of a sinner than a winner.

More..

Island remembers hell of war

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2016

Susan Freeman had not been to the Isle of Man since she was born there in December 1940.

But last weekend a historic commemoration in which she has a personal stake finally drew her back.

More..

New initiative considered to help children with no Jewish secondary school place

By Simon Rocker, August 10, 2016

Partnerships for Jewish Schools is considering a new idea to help children who have no Jewish secondary school to go to in north-west London next month.

The educational agency is exploring the possibility of offering a Jewish programme at a non-Jewish school, believed to be in Barnet, which is willing to take the children.

More..

Number of non-Christians in UK rises

By Simon Rocker, August 9, 2016

The proportion of Britons who practise a religion other than Christianity has risen fourfold in three decades, according to newly published statistics.

Whereas just two per cent of people in the UK professed a non-Christian faith in 1983, that figure stood at eight per cent in 2015.

More..

New album has star quality

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

Debbie Wiseman, Classic FM’s composer in residence, was certainly influenced by the stars for her new album. The Musical Zodiac, out next month, is a 12-movement orchestral work, each movement inspired by an astrological sign. The album notes were penned by Jonathan Cainer, king of newspaper horoscopes, who died earlier this year.

More..

Wonder never ceases

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

Whoever would have thought it, a Barbie doll with an Israel connection? The new doll is based on the superhero film character Wonder Woman, played by actress Gal Gadot.

More..

Shylock gets his money back

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

At last, Shylock has been cleared.

More..

Glatt kosher for Savoy guests

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

Kosher guests can look forward to a new dining option at London's Savoy Hotel: a supervised meal prepared on the premises.

"It's an exciting prospect," said Kenneth Arfin, who last month teamed up with the hotel to work with its kosher services.

More..

The man who cracked the Eggheads​

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

It was just one against five and the odds were stacked against Edgware Masorti Synagogue member Howard Bluston.

The pensions adviser, 70, was the last man standing for his team Acorn Antiques in the BBC2 quiz show Eggheads last Friday and he was facing five of the country's top quiz champions.

But although his team-mates had been eliminated, Mr Bluston (third from right), proved more than a

More..

JFS needs ‘rapid and robust’ improvement says new head

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

A few days after Debby Lipkin took charge of JFS, she told an assembly of year-11s, "I feel I have come home". It was an "unusual" but "lovely feeling", the turnaround specialist tells me.

More..

Overall JLC spending is down, with CEO’s pay at over £170,000, accounts reveal

By Simon Rocker, August 3, 2016

Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, is earning more than Prime Minister Theresa May, according to the organisation's latest accounts.

His pay was in the region of £170,000-£179,000 last year – compared to the PM's official salary of around £143,500.

More..

Charity Commission launches inquiry into Orthodox girls’ school in Manchester

By Simon Rocker, August 3, 2016

The Charity Commission has launched a fresh inquiry into an Orthodox girls’ seminary in Manchester over concerns about its administration.

The Jewish Seminary for Girls had previously been one of a large number of charities investigated by the charity watchdog for delays in filing annual accounts.

More..

Modern Orthodox group unveils plans

By Simon Rocker, July 29, 2016

An independent modern Orthodox community is planned for Edgware following a meeting of potential participants this week.

Titled Kehillat Ohev Shalom ("Lover of Peace"), it aims to hold a number of Shabbatonim in the coming months - the first in September.

Its organisers are Lindsay Simmonds, a lecturer at the London School of Jewish Studies, and Barry Kleinberg, who has also been teaching t

More..

Dismay as advice service for drug addicts is axed

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2016

The founder of Drugsline said this week that he was "extremely disappointed" that the specialist service for addicts and their families had been closed down.

Norwood, the charity which has run Drugsline for the past three years, said the once-a-week evening drop-in centre and the drugs awareness workshops for schools and youth groups were being axed in a refocusing of resources.

More..

We're staying put, says King Solomon head

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2016

On the face of it, it seems a neat solution. There is a shortage of places at state-aided Jewish secondary schools in north-west London which is predicted to get worse over the next few years.

More..