Simon Rocker

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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Orthodox more threatened by antisemitism

By Simon Rocker, July 17, 2014

Orthodox Jews are more likely to be troubled by antisemitism in the UK than non-Orthodox Jews, according to a new report published today by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Two in five strictly Orthodox Jews said they had experienced antisemitic harassment or discrimination within the 12 months up to the time of the survey, compared with 17 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews.

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How a turnaround head gave rising hemlines short shrift

By Simon Rocker, July 17, 2014

The acting head of a troubled high school has wasted no time in stamping his authority.

Paul Doherty, 67, sent 100 girls home because their skirts were too short, at least for King Solomon High School uniforms.

Most returned properly dressed almost immediately but it took a week to get everyone to comply.

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Riding the wave of a cultural renaissance

By Simon Rocker, July 17, 2014

The busy Finchley Road which links Golders Green to Swiss Cottage is a far cry from the seaside. But those unable enjoy a coastal break might want to take a trip there - for the sand has arrived at JW3.

The new Jewish community centre is offering a "pop-up beach" on its piazza, which, in winter, sported an ice rink.

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US: We hold the key to Board-JLC merger deal

By Simon Rocker, July 17, 2014

A merger of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council would largely depend on the view of the United Synagogue, US president Stephen Pack said this week.

The Board and the JLC have been in discussions for more than a year over possible unification.

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United Synagogue makes history as four women voted to top table

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2014

It may not have been as revolutionary as the Church of England at last approving women bishops.

But the United Synagogue, Britain’s largest Orthodox synagogue grouping, took a historic step last night by voting women on to its executive for the first time.

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The state of Chabad

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2014

Twenty years after Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson's death, Chabad's outreach work has not quite stretched to every corner of the globe.

Their rabbi-and-rebbetzin teams surprisingly cover only 49 of America's states.

Newly-appointed Rabbi Akiva Hall is their first full-time representative in Mississippi, leaving only South Dakota Chabad-less.

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Yofi coffee

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2014

Tensions may be rising in the Middle East but coffee remains the hot topic for Israelis, who have lobbied against high beverage prices at Ben Gurion Airport.

The Israel Airports Authority agreed this week to install cost-cutting vending machines, leaving passengers able to buy a coffee for seven shekels (£1.20) instead of the previously sky-high 18 NIS (£3.10).

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Booklog: Israel Mattuck

By Simon Rocker, July 6, 2014

Rabbi Danny Rich,
Liberal Judaism, £4.99

Israel Mattuck was one of the three "M"s who shaped Liberal Judaism in the UK (alongside Claude Montefiore and Lily Montagu). Arriving from the USA in 1912, he established himself over the next 40 years as one of the leading preachers of his generation.

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Envoys support Laurence Brass in Israel criticism row

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

A group of former Israeli diplomats and politicians have sprung to the defence of Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass over his outspoken comments about the situation of Palestinians on the West Bank.

Mr Brass has been under fire for expressing shock after a recent visit to the area with British campaign group Yachad.

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Hamas links denied

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

One of Britain's leading Muslim charities has rejected allegations of links with Hamas after being banned by the Israeli government last week from operating in the West Bank.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon accused Birmingham-based Islamic Relief Worldwide of funnelling money to Hamas-controlled organisations.

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Rabbi Galloway, I presume

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

You seldom see men in hats these days unless they are Orthodox Jews or ministers in the Nigerian government. So will Respect MP George Galloway be coming to a minyan down your way soon?

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Doubled-up diplomats

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

British Israel Ambassador Matthew Gould, speaking at a London dinner this week, said that he is often mistaken for his Israeli counterpart in London, Daniel Taub. "I had assumed that this would be happening to him as well," he said. "So I asked him this morning over breakfast, 'I imagine you're mistaken for me?'" Ambassador Taub's response was emphatic. "No."

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Gary Oldman apology 'insufficient'

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League has said that an apology by actor Gary Oldman for remarks about Jewish control of Hollywood was "insufficient".

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