Simon Rocker

JFS needs ‘rapid and robust’ improvement says new head

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2016

A few days after Debby Lipkin took charge of JFS, she told an assembly of year-11s, "I feel I have come home". It was an "unusual" but "lovely feeling", the turnaround specialist tells me.

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Overall JLC spending is down, with CEO’s pay at over £170,000, accounts reveal

By Simon Rocker, August 3, 2016

Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, is earning more than Prime Minister Theresa May, according to the organisation's latest accounts.

His pay was in the region of £170,000-£179,000 last year – compared to the PM's official salary of around £143,500.

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Charity Commission launches inquiry into Orthodox girls’ school in Manchester

By Simon Rocker, August 3, 2016

The Charity Commission has launched a fresh inquiry into an Orthodox girls’ seminary in Manchester over concerns about its administration.

The Jewish Seminary for Girls had previously been one of a large number of charities investigated by the charity watchdog for delays in filing annual accounts.

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Modern Orthodox group unveils plans

By Simon Rocker, July 29, 2016

An independent modern Orthodox community is planned for Edgware following a meeting of potential participants this week.

Titled Kehillat Ohev Shalom ("Lover of Peace"), it aims to hold a number of Shabbatonim in the coming months - the first in September.

Its organisers are Lindsay Simmonds, a lecturer at the London School of Jewish Studies, and Barry Kleinberg, who has also been teaching t

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Dismay as advice service for drug addicts is axed

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2016

The founder of Drugsline said this week that he was "extremely disappointed" that the specialist service for addicts and their families had been closed down.

Norwood, the charity which has run Drugsline for the past three years, said the once-a-week evening drop-in centre and the drugs awareness workshops for schools and youth groups were being axed in a refocusing of resources.

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We're staying put, says King Solomon head

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2016

On the face of it, it seems a neat solution. There is a shortage of places at state-aided Jewish secondary schools in north-west London which is predicted to get worse over the next few years.

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Board of Deputies calls for entry restriction to be lifted on faith-based free schools

By Simon Rocker, July 27, 2016

The Board of Deputies has entered the growing debate on free schools by asking new Education Secretary Justine Greening to remove the curb on admissions on the basis of faith.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has called for the lifting of the 50 per cent cap whereby only half the places in a free school can be reserved for members of one faith.

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Charedi boys school fails Ofsted test

By Simon Rocker, July 27, 2016

Talmud Torah Toldos Yaakov Yosef, a boys primary in Stamford Hill, north London is the latest Charedi school to be told by education watchdog Ofsted that it is failing to comply with independent school standards.

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Inspectors restore Rosh Pinah to 'good school' status

By Simon Rocker, July 27, 2016

Rosh Pinah Primary School in Edgware has restored its reputation as a good school less than a year and a half after inspectors branded it "inadequate".

Ofsted praised the “resilience and hard work” of its governors in tackling previously identified weaknesses in a new report this week.

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Moving services

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

A "trans-geographical" community meeting in different London locations is being planned by an Orthodox rabbinic couple.

Rabbi Naftali and Dina Brawer have been running "pop-up" experimental Shabbat services, as well as study groups, over the past year.

They want "a community that binds people together through shared values rather than geography", Rabbi Brawer said.

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At last - Ofsted praise for a Charedi school

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

A girls' primary school run by one of the most conservative Chasidic groups has been praised by inspectors for teaching about tolerance and respect for others.

Beis Ruchel in Manchester, an independent school for 264 girls aged from three to 11 who are mostly from the Satmar community, has been ranked as good by Ofsted.

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Reform split on Jewish status

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

Several Reform congregations, including its largest, Edgware, have rejected the movement's new policy which enables the children of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother to be recognised as Jewish.

The "inherited status" policy was approved a year ago by the Assembly of Reform Rabbis with congregations given the option of following it or not.

But Edgware, Hendon, Brighton and Bournemouth Ref

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Discord over Board peace plan

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

The Board of Deputies is to launch a programme involving synagogues and churches to support "peace-making" between Israelis and Palestinians.

Invest in Peace, which has been in the pipeline for several months, is being developed with so far unnamed "church partners".

The planned project came to light at Sunday's meeting of the Board, where an attempt to lay down conditions for entering into

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The student-friendly guide to GCSE Judaism

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

When the Board of Deputies asked Clive Lawton to look over a draft textbook on Judaism produced externally for the new GCSE in religious studies, he was aghast. It was so poor that the Board decided that there was only one option: to publish its own.

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Biblical welcome in Abraham's tent

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

"If you have a jumper, take it off, as we are going into the desert," counselled Rabbi Yaacov Finn, programme manager of the London School of Jewish Studies, "It's going to be hot."

As the Year-three boys and girls from Etz Chaim School in Mill Hill donned Arabic dress, he warned, "You don't want to get sunstroke, so you have to put something on your head."

The youthful party was not about t

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Progressive rabbis challenge Mirvis' free school plan

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2016

A group of Progressive rabbis have challenged the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, over his wish to restrict the entry of non-Jewish children into Jewish free schools.

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Charedim plan Harlow move

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2016

A new Charedi community in the Essex town of Harlow is being planned by a group of Stamford Hill activists.

The search for new locations has been prompted by the high cost of housing in inner London.

Project initiator Rabbi Asher Gratt said that given Harlow's proximity to Stamford Hill (23 miles), "I see this as a win-win situation for both communities.

"We are a very enterprising societ

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Promoting innovation

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2016

The United Synagogue has launched a Community Development Fund to encourage innovation.

It plans to make up to eight grants a year, worth between £5,000 and £20,000 apiece, to stimulate local ventures.

"This is to encourage shuls to do things they might not otherwise have dared to do," said Jo Grose, the US community liaison manager.

The US is currently in a healthy financial position,

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Race is on to open third Jewish secondary despite warning from Chief Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, July 14, 2016

The race to open a new Jewish secondary in the London area has intensified, with a third group announcing plans to open a free school.

The Hertfordshire Jewish Free School (HJFS) hopes to apply to set up a new Jewish school in the county in September, while Kedem High and Barkai College are aiming to do likewise in Barnet.

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Wanted: more teachers

By Simon Rocker, July 14, 2016

The rapid increase in the number of Jewish schools over the past decade or so, and the possibility of more to come, has once again raised the question: will there be enough Jewish teachers to staff them?

Next week, 40 teachers will graduate from training schemes at the London School of Jewish Studies - quite possibly the largest batch in its history.

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