Simon Rocker

Universities raise £1.2m to save rare documents

By Simon Rocker, November 29, 2013

Oxford and Cambridge Universities compete as fiercely in the academic arena as they do in the boat race.

But, in a unique partnership, the two rival institutions have joined forces to save a collection of rare medieval Hebrew documents for Britain.

More..

Rabbis condemn Golders Green Synagogue after women hold Torah scroll

By Simon Rocker, November 28, 2013

A United Synagogue congregation which allows women to hold a Sefer Torah has defended itself following an attack from the Orthodox right.

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head of the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, had condemned the practice as “Reform-influenced”.

More..

Chief Mirvis backs top United Synagogue role for women

By Simon Rocker, November 28, 2013

Women could become trustees of the United Synagogue for the first time after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis approved the idea of female members standing for election as trustees of Britain’s main central Orthodox body.

More..

Shechitah is safe, Theresa May pledges

By Simon Rocker, November 28, 2013

Home Secretary Theresa May gave assurances that Jews would continue to enjoy freedom of religion in the UK and practices such as shechitah would remain safe under the present government.

In a well-received speech at the Board of Deputies dinner at the Mansion House last night, she pledged her determination to combat antisemitism, incitement to hate and the influence of extremist preachers.

More..

Mick Davis: Bibi hinders peace efforts and diaspora's attempts to defend Israel

By Simon Rocker, November 28, 2013

The chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, Mick Davis, this week triggered fresh controversy over Israel by claiming it was doing too little to convey a commitment to peace.

More..



Limmud: to go or not to go, the argument continues

By Simon Rocker, November 25, 2013

Whatever else it has done, Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s decision to attend next month’s Limmud conference has reawakened the debate over Orthodox-Progressive relations and pluralism.

Here is one of the more thoughtful contributions from an Orthodox non-Limmud goer, Daniel Greenberg.

More..

Orthodox women's lead role

By Simon Rocker, November 25, 2013

Borehamwood held its first partnership minyan — an Orthodox service where some of the prayers can be led by women — last Friday evening.

The event, at the local Allum Hall community centre, attracted some 60 people, divided equally between the sexes, who sat separately on either side of a mechitzah. Men led minchah and ma’ariv. A woman took the Kabbalat Shabbat service.

More..

For sale: Oxford's Hebrew manor house

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2013

The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies is to sell its historic premises at Yarnton Manor for a new home in the city.

Next year’s planned relocation would bring the centre’s academic activities closer to the heart of Oxford University, with which it has close ties, and would mark “a coming of age”, said acting president Professor Martin Goodman,

More..

Department for Education Inspectors target yeshivot

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2013

Inspectors have been sent by the Department for Education into Hackney, north-east London as part of a drive to register strictly Orthodox yeshivot.

According to the law, children aged 16 and under must be taught in institutions officially recognised by the state.

More..

Halpern escapes charges on sex assault allegations

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2013

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has yet to say whether it is to reconvene a special rabbinic court to investigate the conduct of Rabbi Chaim Halpern following a Crown Prosecution Service decision not to charge him over allegations of sexual assualt.

More..

Obey! Or is that oy vey? Who knew - the Doctor and the Daleks are Jewish

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2013

For many, the long-awaited television event of the year will finally arrive tomorrow night when the BBC shows the 50th anniversary episode of what must now be its most famous programme, Doctor Who.

More..



'A mitzvah to go to Limmud'

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2013

See this contribution to the debate over Limmud from former Bnei Akiva shaliach to the UK, Rabbi Benjamin Lau of Israel.

More..

Police drop Rabbi Chaim Halpern investigation

By Simon Rocker, November 15, 2013

A police investigation into alleged sex abuse of women by prominent Golders Green rabbi, Chaim Halpern, has been dropped.

The Metropolitan Police said today that a file passed to the Crown Prosecution Service "regarding allegations of sexual assault has resulted in no charges being brought against a 54-year-old man".

More..

False start in £600,000 costs battle

By Simon Rocker, November 14, 2013

A battle over the legal costs relating to a defeated claim of antisemitic harassment is set to continue after a tribunal withdrew from deciding the issue.

More..

EU survey shows high anxiety but threat level remains hidden

By Simon Rocker, November 14, 2013

The gloomy headlines must have had some Israelis wondering why the planes are not already on their way to airlift the Jews of Europe out of danger.

A new survey of Jews in eight countries, commissioned by the European Union and published on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht at the end of last week, has recorded a significant level of anxiety about antisemitism.

More..

Alan Dershowitz decries ‘tyranny’ of Israeli rabbis

By Simon Rocker, November 14, 2013

One of America’s most prominent pro-Israel advocates, Professor Alan Dershowitz, has written to President Shimon Peres to protest at the “religious tyranny” of Israel’s chief rabbinate.

He has intervened in a “who is a Jew” row that has flared up between the state’s rabbinical authorities and a leading American modern Orthodox rabbi, Avraham Weiss.

More..

The baby gap...and how it’s changing the face of the community

By Simon Rocker, November 14, 2013

The overall number of Jewish births in the UK is at its highest level for more than 40 years — but when the Charedi population is removed from the figures, the numbers look very different and show a continuing fall.

In 2011 there were 3,860 recorded births. That is the highest since an estimated 4,000 in the late 1960s, and the fourth successive year of increase.

More..

It’s the birth of a boom for the strictly Orthodox

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2013

The latest set of vital statistics for British Jewry is again “a tale of two communities” — the strictly Orthodox gaining in strength while the rest of the population declines.

For a couple of decades or more, there were far more recorded deaths than births. But over the past two years, there have been 1,000 more annual births than deaths, largely due to the rise of the Charedim.

More..

Limmud row deepens after ‘aberration’ slur

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2013

An outspoken attack on Limmud by one of the candidates for chief rabbi this week reignited the furore over Orthodox participation in next month’s cross-communal conference.

Rabbi Alan Kimche, in an article sent to congregants at his Ner Israel Synagogue, claimed that Limmud “celebrates a rejection of all that is precious to Orthodox Judaism”.

More..

Board of Deputies set to put HQ up for sale

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2013

The Board of Deputies has begun a search for a new home after announcing that is to leave the central London premises that have served as its headquarters for the past 17 years.

More..