Simon Rocker

Passenger beats easyJet in court

By Simon Rocker, June 12, 2014

A businessman has won a legal victory over easyJet after challenging its cancellation fee for a flight to Israel.

Adam Rubens, of Bushey, Hertfordshire, said it was not the £58 plus £50 costs awarded to him in Watford County Court that mattered but the principle.

Mr Rubens, a member of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, booked a return flight to Tel Aviv with the budget airline last Decemb

More..

New chief executive for United Synagogue

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2014

A former JFS pupil with a PhD in chemistry is to be the next chief executive of Britain’s largest synagogue body, the United Synagogue.

Dr Steven Wilson, who is the executive director of the International Council of Science, will take up the position after Rosh Hashanah in September.

More..

Praise for Lubavitch primary

By Simon Rocker, June 9, 2014

The Lubavitch Boys’ Primary School in Stamford Hill has been praised for its Jewish studies, including its use of information technology in the subject.

Pikuach, the Jewish inspection service overseen by the Board of the Deputies, gave the state-aided school a “good” rating for its religious teaching.

More..

Brent Cross will stage mass challah-baking

By Simon Rocker, June 9, 2014

For one day later this year, Brent Cross shopping centre will become the country’s largest Jewish bakery.

It will be the venue for a mass challah-making event to prepare for Shabbat UK, the national celebration launched by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

The aim is to encourage as many Jews as possible to observe the day of rest over October 24 and 25.

More..

Rabbi to target the 'missing generation'

By Simon Rocker, June 9, 2014

The Reform movement has created a new rabbinical post to spearhead its work with young adults — the so-called “missing generation”.

Rabbi Benji Stanley, 31, who has been at West London Synagogue since his ordination at Leo Baeck College last summer, will take on the role from September.

More..

It's shwarmaggedon as Solly's closes down

By Simon Rocker, June 6, 2014

The Mediterranean might have been far away and the double-decker buses cruising past the awnings would have reminded you that you were not in Israel. But for 24 years Solly's brought a taste of Tel Aviv to Golders Green.

Now the shwarma towers have turned for the last time as one of London's first kosher Israeli restaurants closed this week, prompting laments from loyal customers.

More..

Uncivil War: the israel conflict in th e Jewish community

By Simon Rocker, June 6, 2014

By Keith Kahn-Harris
David Paul, £10

Between 2009 and 2011, the sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris hosted more than a dozen dinner parties at his London home that were more than just social occasions; they were intended as an experiment in dialogue.

More..

Solly's restaurant in Golders Green to close

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2014

Solly’s, one of the first kosher restaurants to bring a taste of Israel to Golders Green, is closing down tomorrow after more than 20 years in business.

The last evening service of shwarma, shishlik and felafel is due to take place tonight.

“It’s bad news,” said one regular customer over lunch today, “they served good food in a friendly atmosphere."

More..

Job-share rabbis to leave Wimbledon

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2014

Wimbledon Synagogue will be looking for new spiritual leadership to replace the rabbinic duo who have held the reins for 11 years.

The South London Reform congregation was one of the first synagogues to introduce a job-sharing arrangement, engaging Rabbis Sybil Sheridan and Sylvia Rothschild.

The two rabbis attended on different days during the week and alternated over Shabbat.

More..

Diaspora wants Israel to stay a liberal democracy

By Simon Rocker, May 30, 2014

Since most diaspora Jews live in liberal democracies, it is little surprise that they attach importance to Israel’s credentials as a democracy. But what would happen if Israel were seen to move away from its democratic foundations?

More..

Forget soup kitchens — rabbis want real change

By Simon Rocker, May 30, 2014

Rabbis have launched a cross-communal group to campaign for social justice in Britain. Around 30 ministers attended a meeting this month of the new organisation, called Tzelem, the Rabbinic Call for Social and Economic Justice in the UK.

More..

Led Zeppelin or the Jewish rock legend?

By Simon Rocker, May 30, 2014

It is one of the anthems of 20th century rock, writes Simon Rocker. But could the opening bars of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven have been lifted from an earlier tune penned by American Jewish guitarist Randy California?

A Pennsylvania law firm is preparing legal action to insist that California — who died in a swimming accident in 1997 — gets the credit for the Zeppelin track.

More..

Methodist Church delays Israel boycott decision

By Simon Rocker, May 23, 2014

Methodist leaders have recommended the church put off any decision on whether to boycott Israel for at least two years.

A resolution to be debated at its policy-making conference in Birmingham next month says that members need more time to reflect and should not submit any motions on “Israel/Palestine” until after their conference of 2016.

More..

New head at King Solomon

By Simon Rocker, May 22, 2014

The governors of King Solomon High School have appointed an acting head teacher to plug the gap following the banning of Jo Shuter last week.

Ms Shuter, who joined the Orthodox school in Redbridge last September, was struck off by the Department for Education for abusing expenses while head of her previous school.

More..

Stamford Hill students burn Magen David

By Simon Rocker, May 22, 2014

A Stamford Hill yeshivah celebrated the festival of Lag ba’Omer on Sunday by burning giant Magen Davids in a show of anti-Zionism.

A video clip which surfaced on the internet this week showed teenagers bobbing and clapping to music as their bonfire consumed the emblem of the state of Israel in the grounds of the Toras Chesed yeshivah.

More..

Should faith schools be able to drop evolution?

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2014

The children and their adult escorts have gathered beneath the long bony neck of Dippy the diplodocus, the giant replica skeleton which stands in the lobby of the Natural History Museum. Sunday morning cheder for these pupils from Belsize Square Synagogue is not going to be in class.

More..

Liberals heed conference calls for progression

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2014

Some people believe religion and politics should not mix. But Rabbi Jonah Pesner, senior-president of the Union of Reform Judaism in North America, is not among them.

His keynote speech to Liberal Judaism's biennial conference at the weekend was a stirring call to action. "To be a Progressive Jew is to put a stake in the ground for a political vision of a just society," he declared.

More..

King Solomon appoints acting head teacher

By Simon Rocker, May 16, 2014

King Solomon High School in Redbridge has appointed an acting head to take over the reins following the suspension of head teacher Jo Shuter.

Redbridge Council said that Dr Paul Doherty, head of Trinity School in Woodford, would act as head of King Solomon from Monday.

More..

Single life may be key to Nottingham’s survival

By Simon Rocker, May 15, 2014

The example of Oxford, where Orthodox and non-Orthodox groups share a single building, is being floated as the way ahead for a second regional community.

A proposal for a single Jewish centre to house Nottingham’s Orthodox and Liberal congregations has been aired at meetings in both synagogues over the past week.

More..

King Solomon headteacher Jo Shuter banned from teaching

By Simon Rocker, May 15, 2014

The head of King Solomon High School, Jo Shuter, has been banned from teaching for abusing expenses while at her previous school.

One of the most country’s most high-profile teachers, who was awarded the CBE four years ago, she admitted allegations of inappropriate claims during her headship of London’s Quintin Kynaston Community Academy before a teaching disciplinary panel in April.

More..