Simon Rocker

Goal NidreI fears for fans

By Simon Rocker, August 27, 2015

Arsenal and Spurs have been drawn to meet in the next round of the Capital One Cup. But Jewish supporters may have to give the game a miss.

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Spanish and Portuguese? Just call us S&P Sephardi

By Simon Rocker, August 27, 2015

Britain's oldest Jewish community, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, is to change its name to reflect a broader constituency.

It will henceforth be known as the S and P Sephardi Community - "the first major change in image in 350 years", said its executive director Alison Rosen.

The new name, she explained, "reflects the entirety of the S and P community which includes not onl

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Review: Naming God

By Simon Rocker, August 26, 2015

Avinu Malkeinu - "Our Father, Our King" –- is one of the seminal prayers of the High Holy Days, its final verse sung to a plaintive melody that captures the essence of the Days of Awe (a few years ago the Scottish band Mogwai even produced a rock version).

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The animated rabbi who films the Bible

By Simon Rocker, August 20, 2015

'Shalom, this is Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence," says the minister of Kinloss (Finchley United) Synagogue, who is standing by a signpost pointing to Bethlehem, while a camel in the background mooches under a palm tree.

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The cricketing top scorer from Sky who has never been stumped

By Simon Rocker, August 20, 2015

When Australia were skittled out for 60 on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test in Nottingham a fortnight ago, the records fell as fast as Aussie wickets. But the commentators in the Sky Sports team trying to keep up knew they could rely on a trusted source for their facts and figures: statistician Benedict Bermange.

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Silkin moves as Beis Yisrael hits home problem

By Simon Rocker, August 20, 2015

The rabbi of a fledgling Borehamwood community has left the area after less than two years to live in more Orthodox Hendon.

In a farewell letter, Rabbi Shimshon Silkin, who launched Beis Yisrael in September 2013, wrote of the problem of trying to find permanent premises for the new community.

"Despite raising significant funds and two years of intensive searching, we have still come up shor

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Diaspora unconvinced over Israel's desire for peace

By Simon Rocker, August 13, 2015

The Israeli government is struggling to convince diaspora Jews that it is committed to peace with the Palestinians, a report has shown.

While there was broad sympathy and concern for Israel, there was also growing discomfort among diaspora communities, the Jerusalem-based think tank the Jewish People Policy Institute found.

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So who's really Jewish?

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2015

Earlier this year, Hollywood actor Michael Douglas became the second winner of the $1 million Genesis Prize, popularised as a kind of Jewish equivalent of the Nobel. Its recipient has to combine professional excellence with an inspirational example of dedication to the Jewish community and/or Israel.

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US blessing for British first Jewish priestesses

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2015

Two women have become the first Britons to be formally ordained as Jewish priestesses.

Rachel Rose Reid, one of the country’s top storytellers, and Brighton-born Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny, who now leads a Jewish Renewal community in Boulder, Colorado, are among this year’s graduates from the Kohenet (priestess) Institute in Connecticut, in the United States.

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Jewish charity probed over £2 million loan

By Simon Rocker, August 6, 2015

The Charity Commission has launched an inquiry into a north London charity which supports Torah study and other Orthodox causes over a £2 million loan.

The Golders Green-based Reb Moishe Foundation lent the money to a company of which the charity’s sole listed trustee, Jacob Plitnick, is also a director.

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‘Four injured’ in kosher hotel bridge collapse

By Simon Rocker, August 5, 2015

A number of guests at a kosher hotel in Switzerland are said to have been treated for injuries after a wooden bridge collapsed.

According to unconfirmed reports, four people received treatment on the scene after the accident at Levin’s Hotel Metropol in Arosa on Tuesday night. Two people remained in hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

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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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