Simon Rocker

Sacks tackles religious violence in next book

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is to explore the origins of religious violence in his next book.

“Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence” will be published in June by Hodder Faith.

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US 'must shift resources to local shuls'

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

The former chairman of one of the United Synagogue's largest communities says its new strategic review could be pivotal if the organisation can take the steps necessary to implement it.

Lord Mendelsohn, who was a strong advocate of change in the US when chairing Finchley Synagogue, said that "there needs to be a tremendous shift of resources from the centre to local communities".

The review,

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Is it the end of Golders Green Charedi giants?

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

The death last week of the nonagenarian president of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern, not only deprived Golders Green of one of its most influential post-war Jewish figures, it marked the passing of the area's Charedi old guard.

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Bad health affectsone in 20

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

Around 2,000 Jewish children have a health condition which limits them in some way, according to a report published this week by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

One in 20 of British Jews overall are in bad or very bad health, JPR found in its analysis of the 2011 Census.

Around one in six Jews - nearly 46,000 - reported a chronic health problem or disability with nearly 21,000 re

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Shul shelter finds right recipe to help homeless

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

It was 7.30 on a Saturday night and Lorelai Burcea was stirring herbs into a large saucepan of mushroom sauce gently heating in the kitchen of the West London Synagogue.

The guests had already arrived and were chatting or reading the papers over coffee.

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Dawkins, Sacks and Jewish Nobel laureates

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2015

A year and a half ago Richard Dawkins caused more than his usual stir when he tweeted that the entire Muslim population had won fewer Nobels than Trinity College Cambridge.

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Time to change: we must adapt say shul leaders

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2015

The United Synagogue should play a greater leadership role in British Jewry while offering more cultural programmes to attract secular Jews, a major review has concluded.

Europe's largest synagogue body must move away from regarding shuls as "religious sanctuaries" and make its centres more welcoming if it is to succeed.

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Mirvis addresses Muslim dinner in Cardiff

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has, for the first time, been guest of honour at a Muslim dinner, delivering a keynote speech to the Muslim Council of Wales.

Addressing a Cardiff audience of 400 including Lesley Griffiths, Communities Minister of the Welsh Assembly, he emphasised his commitment to Muslim-Jewish co-operation, calling for greater dialogue in challenging times.

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Met chief is an admirer of Hill street patrols

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2015

London’s second most senior policeman visited Stamford Hill to salute the work of the local division of Shomrim, the Orthodox community safety patrol.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey praised the volunteer group’s “exceptional” contribution at its second annual meeting.

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Religious leaders join walk for peace

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

A group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders are to front a one-day “pilgrimage” across London next Thursday in a demonstration of interfaith fellowship.

Masorti Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, who will be taking part in the walk, said its aim was to support “the values of freedom, democracy, equality and respect for life”.

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UKIP’s family-unfriendly benefit policy

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

UKIP tied itself up in knots last week, after announcing support for a ban on religious slaughter, only for senior party members to indicate they were looking for a way to backtrack.

But it is not the only policy that would not go down well within the Jewish community.

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Laura Marks will not stand for Board of Deputies president

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

Senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies Laura Marks has sprung a surprise by saying she will not be a candidate to become its next president.

She had been expected to enter the contest to succeed Vivian Wineman at May's elections.

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Mail man wins more Board backers

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

Daily Mail City editor Alex Brummer has won the backing of two more former presidents of the Board of Deputies in his campaign to lead the organisation.

Jo Wagerman, the Board’s only female head, from 2000 to 2003, and Lionel Kopelowitz , president from 1985 to 1991, have come out for Mr Brummer.

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Nicky Morgan considers call for private school security funding

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

The Department for Education is considering a request from Jewish leaders and MPs to help fund security at independent Jewish schools.

State-aided Jewish schools already benefit from a £2 million annual grant towards their security costs provided by the government since 2010.

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MPs set to debate shechita

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2015

Shechita is set to come under renewed political attack at a parliamentary debate on Monday week.

It has been prompted by a petition launched by the British Veterinary Association calling for the prohibition of animal slaughter without pre-stunning – a move which would effectively end shechita.

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Chief Rabbi addresses Welsh Muslims

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was guest of honour at a Muslim dinner for the first time last night, when he gave the keynote speech to the Muslim Council of Wales.

Addressing an audience of 400 in Cardiff which included Lesley Griffith, Communities Minister of the Welsh Assembly, he emphasised his commitment to Muslim-Jewish co-operation and called for greater dialogue in challenging times.

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Jewish Book Week's glaring gap

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

This month's Jewish Book Week is not only one of the biggest events in the Anglo-Jewish calendar, it is also one of the country's major literary festivals.

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Why the real threat comes from EU labelling proposal

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

A few weeks ago the Supreme Court of Poland slapped down a parliamentary recommendation to introduce a ban on shechita, declaring that it would contravene human rights and amount to discrimination against the country's Jews. Shechita defence campaigners consider it a gold-standard ruling in protecting religious freedom.

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Chief's caution on baby law

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is reserving judgment on the new fertility technique to enable the creation of a baby by three people.

But Reform Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner welcomed this week's House of Commons vote in favour of the procedure, which is designed to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases from mother to child.

In a statement, the Chief Rabbi and the London Beth Din sai

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Concern voiced over church Israel readings

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

A series of readings produced by a church group for Lent has aroused concern over the portrayal of Israel.

The Board of Deputies and the Council of Christians and Jews have taken issue with some of the material published online by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, an umbrella group for different denominations.

The readings focus on the situation of Christians in the Middle East, with

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