Simon Rocker

The Aura of Torah

By Simon Rocker, July 30, 2015

Rabbi Larry Tabick
University of Nebraska, £18.99

Long before Kabbalah became a celebrity pastime, London rabbi Larry Tabick was running classes in Jewish mysticism. His new book draws on years of experience of translating esoteric ideas into practical spiritual teachings.

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Stepping up fight against poverty

By Simon Rocker, July 30, 2015

Jewish organisations may need to do more to prevent community members falling into poverty, according to the head of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

Although Dr Jonathan Boyd acknowledged that much was being done to help those in financial difficulty, little attention was paid to preventing poverty in the first place.

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JLC to invest in Israel advocacy by recruiting in regions

By Simon Rocker, July 30, 2015

The Jewish Leadership Council is to recruit a team of six regional fieldworkers as part of a broader plan to invest in Israel advocacy.

It follows a pledge made by JLC chairman Sir Mick Davis last autumn to increase funding for pro-Israel campaigning in response to the Gaza conflict a year ago.

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Chief Rabbi’s office disappointed over Reform’s Shabbat UK clash

By Simon Rocker, July 29, 2015

The Chief Rabbi’s office has expressed disappointment at the Reform movement decision to launch its own Shabbat event rather than support the Chief Rabbi’s Shabbat UK.

A “Reform Judaism Shabbat” has been announced for October 23 and 24, the same weekend as the second Shabbat UK.

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High Court backs Jewish family who rejected invasive autopsy on religious grounds

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2015

A High Court judge has backed the religious right of Jews and Muslims to ask for a post-mortem to be carried out by scan rather than cutting up open the body.

The case was brought by the family of an Orthodox Jewish woman who resisted an order by Inner London Coroner Mary Hassell for an invasive autopsy to determine the cause of her death last year.

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Sir Mick Davis gains new role at JLC

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2015

Sir Mick Davis has strengthened his grip on the Jewish Leadership Council after being elected unopposed as chairman of its membership council.

The former UJIA leader has led the JLC as chairman of its trustee board over the past six years.

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British Rabbi honoured by the White House for environmental work.

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2015

A British-born rabbi has been honoured by the White House for his environmental work.

Rabbi Marc Soloway, who heads a Conservative congregation in Boulder, Colorado, was one of 12 faith leaders recognised on Monday as a "Champion of Change".

He chairs the rabbinic advisory board of Hazon, a Jewish environmental organisation which was founded by another British expat, Nigel Savage.

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'Cuts will push families into destitution'

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2015

The Board of Deputies has warned that the government's welfare reforms could push families into poverty.

Strictly Orthodox groups say that the proposal to limit child tax credit to only two children from 2017 would leave many families destitute.

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Reform rabbis' concern over status change

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2015

The decision by the British Reform movement's rabbis to recognise the children of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother as Jewish without conversion is a radical, but not revolutionary, one.

The movement is not the first to have adopted the principle of what is now being called "equilineal descent".

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'Poaching' row over Radlett's rabbi

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2015

Richmond Synagogue has complained that the move of its rabbi to a larger United Synagogue after barely two years in the post undermined the "dynamics of a small community".

Rabbi Jonathan Hughes is to leave Richmond later this year to become the spiritual leader of the Radlett congregation in Hertfordshire.

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It's closing time for Harold Hill

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2015

Another Essex Orthodox synagogue is to close its doors.

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So what is 'cultural' Judaism?

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2015

A few years ago a member of a Progressive community in north London put a new idea to it. She was happy to turn up to synagogue on Saturday, but worship didn't do it for her. High choral or happy-clappy guitar, she wasn't searching for any kind of service, but she did have a serious interest in Jewish study.

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Trapped in a man's body in an unforgiving community

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2015

"J" looks like a regulation Charedi. Bearded chin, black kippah, white shirt. But the traditional exterior masks an inner torment that has at times prompted thoughts of suicide. For J may look like a "he" but regards herself as a "she".

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Limmud will get 'refreshing' new look

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2015

The Limmud conference's switch from a university campus to a Hilton hotel will not affect its essential character, its organisers say.

Bookings will shortly open for the cross-communal event, which starts at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham on December 27 after eight years at Warwick University.

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Charedim plan exodus from London shtetl

By Simon Rocker, July 9, 2015

Charedi activists are exploring the possibility of setting up a new community outside London because of the shortage of housing among a rapidly expanding population.

Rabbi Asher Gratt, who lives in Stamford Hill, north London, said that "many families in our community are struggling very hard to find suitable living space".

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Inadequate Chasidic school rapped for failing to improve

By Simon Rocker, July 9, 2015

A Chasidic school that has previously been ordered to improve its secular studies has insisted that children do not need to be taught English until their fourth year of primary school, according to inspectors.

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Record number get taste for Gefiltefest

By Simon Rocker, July 2, 2015

JW3's largest single event since its opening 21 months ago had, of course, to be about food.

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School funder Benjamin Perl warns shortage of places will get worse

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2015

Educational philanthropist Benjamin Perl has warned that the pressure on places at Jewish secondary schools in north-west London is set to grow dramatically.

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Sacks and Violence

By Simon Rocker, June 29, 2015

Simon Rocker is Judaism Editor for the JC

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Helping Charedim into work is a rewarding job

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2015

For three years, Benjamin Landau organised Friday-night dinners or trips abroad for young adults as the assistant community rabbi at Stanmore and Canons Park United Synagogue.

But last autumn he moved east into a very different role.

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