Simon Rocker

Not on our pavements - Charedi group opposes bike plan

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2015

A group which tries to protect the morals of strictly Orthodox Jews has identified a new spiritual threat - bicycle lanes.

The Va'ad Lema'an Toihar Hamachaneh - "committee for the purity of the camp" - has not spelt out why a cycle route running through Hackney, the north London borough with the capital's largest Charedi population, would be "a danger to the spirituality and character of our ne

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Outsider emerges in race to be Board boss

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2015

A dark horse has emerged in the race to be the next president of the Board of Deputies after Essex solicitor Richard Cohen announced his bid for the top post.

Mr Cohen, 59, who has represented Loughton, Chigwell and District Federation Synagogue on the Board for nine years, is the third candidate to step forward after Board vice-presidents Jonathan Arkush and Alex Brummer.

Describing himself

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US urged to help synagogues deal with failing rabbis

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2015

The United Synagogue should make it easier for communities to dispense with under-performing rabbis, its council heard this week.

Stanmore Synagogue representative Saul Taylor said that while, in general, the US was served by a "very high quality rabbinate", it needed to do more to help ministers who were "not performing".

But where there was no improvement, it was "near impossible" for comm

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Shul quits Board - 'it's not good value'

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2015

Leaders of Catford and Bromley Synagogue in south London have decided to leave the Board of Deputies on financial grounds.

Joe Burchell, chairman of the United Synagogue affiliate, said it would not send a deputy to the Board's next triennium because "we do not think it's good value".

It costs a synagogue such as Catford and Bromley £495 annually to send a deputy to the Board.

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New group to fight global poverty

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2015

A new organisation to promote Jewish volunteering abroad and international development has been launched with the backing of the Pears Foundation.

Olam will strengthen the work of some 40 Jewish agencies in Israel and diaspora that are currently involved in the fight against disease, poverty and hunger across the world.

Its Israel-based director, Dyonna Ginsburg, who was the Jewish Agency's

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Clore Shalom criticised by inspectors

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2015

A second Jewish primary school in a week has been downgraded by Ofsted inspectors.

The cross-communal Clore Shalom in Shenley Hertfordshire, has dropped from good to a school that “requires improvement” after an inspection last month.

It follows the publication of a critical report last week into Rosh Pinah in Edgware, which fell from good to inadequate.

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Essex man runs as 'rank outsider' for Board president

By Simon Rocker, March 23, 2015

A dark horse has emerged in the race to be the next president of the Board of Deputies after Essex solicitor Richard Cohen announced his bid for the top post.

Mr Cohen, 59, who has represented Loughton, Chigwell and District Federation Synagogue on the Board for nine years, is the third candidate to step forward after Board vice-presidents Jonathan Arkush and Alex Brummer.

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Rosh Pinah branded inadequate by inspectors

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

One of the community’s best-known primary schools, Rosh Pinah in Edgware, has been judged inadequate – the lowest of the four inspection grades – following an Ofsted visit in January.

Pupils were “not working at the levels they should” considering their attainment at reception, inspectors said in a report published this week.

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The Israeli rabbi fighting the religious status quo

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Many Israelis were disappointed when Rabbi David Stav failed to win election as the country's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi last year. There had been high hopes of him prising the institution from its Charedi grip and introducing a more modern Orthodox outlook.

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Federation denies it is placing shechita at risk

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Federation of Synagogues president Andrew Cohen rebutted claims this week that its new shechita operation could put the future of British kosher beef at risk.

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Married and renting - report reveals the state of Jewish households

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

British Jewry may be growing poorer with a decline in home ownership and a rise in people renting accommodation, according to a report published this week.

Home ownership among Jews in England and Wales fell from 77 per cent of households to 73 per cent over the past decade. Jews are still more likely to own their homes than the general population, where the figure is 64 per cent.

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Coroner row escalates

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Representatives of London's strictly Orthodox community have dismissed claims of hounding a coroner in a long-running dispute over autopsies.

Mary Hassell, senior coroner for Inner North London, was reported by the Mail on Sunday to have written to Camden Council asking for protection from "bullying, intimidation and the threat of violence".

Twice last year the relatives of elderly Orthodox

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Report reveals numbers living alone

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Nearly one in six Jewish households in England and Wales consists of a person aged 65 or older and living alone.

Jews are more likely to live alone than people in England and Wales in general because of the older age profile of the Jewish community, according to a report published this week by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

Around 45 per cent of Jews in their eighties live a

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Limmud fans beat the jams

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Harrow Limmud's ambition in moving to a larger venue paid off as it attracted double the number who came to its last staging two years ago.

A sell-out attendance of 1,000 enjoyed a choice of 134 sessions covering food, film, football and much more at JFS's Kenton premises on Sunday.

"We were thrilled at how the event went," said organising team co-ordinator Helen Levy.

Participants were u

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United Synagogue attacks Federation meat operation as 'jeopardising shechita'

By Simon Rocker, March 13, 2015

The United Synagogue has hit out at the Federation of Synagogues’ new kosher meat operation, claiming that it could lead to price rises.

The Federation’s mehadrin meat range – aimed at strictly Orthodox consumers – went on sale in one London shop on Wednesday.

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Teacher praised by David Cameron named as new King Solomon head

By Simon Rocker, March 13, 2015

A teacher praised by Prime Minister David Cameron is to be the next head of King Solomon High School in Redbridge.

Matthew Slater, who previously taught at Hasmonean High School and was first deputy head of Yavneh College, will start at the 920-pupil school after Pesach.

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DVD release for Hostages

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

If you missed the highly-acclaimed Israeli drama Hostages, which concludes on BBC Four on Saturday night, all is not lost; the box set of the10-part Hebrew thriller is out on DVD on Monday.

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New kosher meat operation 'could put shechita at risk'

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

The president of the London Board for Shechita has warned that a new meat operation launched by the Federation of Synagogues could threaten the future of kosher beef in Britain.

Benjamin Mire said the initiative could result in the closure of the LBS's cattle abattoirs in Manchester.

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Orthodox allegiance is what's really at stake

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

Behind the latest manoeuvrings over kosher meat lies a battle to capture the allegiance of the growing number of frum young families in north-west London.

The Federation of Synagogues, keen to throw off any lingering idea that it is a relic of the old East End, believes there is a gap in the religious market to the right of the United Synagogue and it is well-placed to fill it.

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'Limit on child benefits would hit Charedim'

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

The Board of Deputies says it would be concerned if the Conservatives went ahead with a proposal to limit child benefit for families with more than three children.

Dominic Raab, Tory MP for Esher and Walton, told BBC Two's Newsnight that the party was considering capping the benefit.

A Board spokesman responded this week by saying the organisation would be "concerned about the effect any mea

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