Simon Rocker



Lord Jakobovits, Louis Jacobs and conversion

By Simon Rocker, September 18, 2009

Interesting revelations on conversion from Ivor Jacobs, a prominent member of the Masorti movement and son of its spiritual founder, Rabbi Louis Jacobs.

In the latest edition of the New North London Synagogue magazine, he writes:

“In the seventies and eighties, problems for children of non-Orthodox conversions were occasionally addressed by Chief Rabbi Jakobovits. He could see what a tremendous wrong would have been perpetrated to force such people to go through years of difficulty to be converted under Orthodox auspices.

More..

Solomon gets Scots and interfaith roles

By Simon Rocker, September 17, 2009

Rabbi Mark Solomon has left the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John’s Wood, after nine years to take up a new role as interfaith consultant for Liberal Judaism.

He has also become part-time rabbi of Sukkat Shalom, Edinburgh’s Liberal community, and will take services over the High Holy-Days.

Rabbi Solomon, a trustee of the Interfaith Alliance UK, said that “Jewish-Muslim links are very important these days, but I hope to build links more widely as well”.

More..

School goes outside the faith to fill

By Simon Rocker, September 17, 2009

Ilford Jewish Primary School is accepting pupils from other faiths because there have been insufficient Jewish children to fill places.

Headteacher Roz Levin said that for the second academic year, non-Jewish children had been admitted “due to the fact that we are not oversubscribed”.

Five of this year’s 31 entrants to the reception class are not Jewish. Their families understood “we are a Jewish school and we only teach Judaism”, the head explained.

More..



Using your loaf

By Simon Rocker, September 17, 2009

A whimsical take on the Tashlich ceremony, that comes in an email circular from the Kesher community centre in Golders Green.

"On the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, there is a ceremony called Tashlich. Jews traditionally go to the ocean or a stream or river to pray and throw bread crumbs into the water. Symbolically, the fish devour their sins.

"Occasionally, people ask what kind of bread crumbs should be thrown. Here are suggestions for breads which may be most appropriate for specific sins and misbehaviours:

For ordinary sins - White Bread

For amatory sins - French Bread

More..



New school rules ‘mockery of Jewish values’

By Simon Rocker, September 14, 2009

Predictably, a fair amount of criticism has greeted the new entry rules that JFS and other secondary schools have been forced to adopt after the Court of Appeal ruling which said that they could no longer use the Jewish status of parents to determine admissions.
Take the Jewish Tribune columnist Ben Yitzchok who in the latest edition, condemns the “stupidity” of the new religious test introduced by JFS, which is based on synagogue attendance and other practice.

More..

Chief Rabbi to become Lord Sacks of Aldgate

By Simon Rocker, September 11, 2009

The Chief Rabbi will officially become a peer on October 27 when he enters the House of Lords as Lords Sacks of Aldgate.

He will be sponsored by Lord Winston and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

Explaining why he had chosen to nominate the East End of London district, he said; “My late father sold cloth in Commercial Road and my grandmother ran Frumkins wine shop. I wanted not to forget my roots. That’s where I used to help out help when I was a child and where my earliest memories are.”

More..

Charity Commission warns Cardiff home

By Simon Rocker, September 10, 2009

The only Jewish old age home in Wales has been told it must do more to publicise help for people unable to pay its fees if it is to remain a charity.

Penylan House in Cardiff was informed by the Charity Commission that it had failed to meet the legal requirement to provide “public benefit”.

In a report on the home, the commission noted “the lack of clear information that assistance may be available for those who cannot afford the fees”.

It also found “the absence of a clear, budgeted plan of targeted assistance to help in cases where top-up fees cannot be afforded”.

More..

Primary chair 'forced out over JCoSS'

By Simon Rocker, September 10, 2009

The chairman of Simon Marks Jewish Primary in Hackney has been forced to step down because, he claims, of his support for linking it with the new cross-communal Jewish Community Secondary School.

Simon Marks’s foundation body, the Scopus Jewish Educational Trust, has confirmed its decision not to reappoint Peter Kessler as a foundation governor after his three-year term expired.

He attributed the trust’s action to his backing for making Simon Marks a feeder for JCoSS, which is due to open in East Barnet next September.

More..

Government anti-terror funding 'is going to radicals'

By Simon Rocker, September 10, 2009

A key government programme to counter Islamist extremism has given money to groups that have promoted radical ideas, according to a new report.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, a ginger group monitoring public spending, says that the government should consider scrapping “Preventing Violent Extremism”, known as Prevent, a £50 million-plus scheme which is part of its anti-terrorism strategy.

The TPA, analysing more than £12 million spent on Prevent so far, accused the government of leaving it up to ill-equipped local councils to allocate the money.

More..

Jewish aid to Pakistan breaks down barriers

By Simon Rocker, September 10, 2009

A charity’s aid work in Pakistan helped to create a more positive image of Judaism, according to a report published this week.

It cites World Jewish Relief as an example of what religious organisations can achieve in providing help overseas.

Authors Edward Kessler and Miriam Arkush, who produced Keeping Faith in Development for the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge, recommend that faith-based organisations should do more to collaborate over international development to foster inter-religious understanding.

More..

JFS admits child of non-Orthodox convert

By Simon Rocker, September 10, 2009

JFS has accepted the child of a non-Orthodox-converted mother as a first-year pupil, despite its previous rejection of such children because they are not considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbi.

The Orthodox school, based in Kenton, north London, refused to admit any U-turn or say whether the decision had been taken because of a Court of Appeal ruling earlier this summer declaring its entry policy to be unlawful.

Russell Kett, chairman of JFS governors, said: “The school does not comment on individual applicants or students.”

More..

Marrying out? Come to Israel instead

By Simon Rocker, September 9, 2009
See Video

An anti-assimilation campaign with Israeli government backing is generating fierce controversy, according to Ha’aretz.

The newspaper reports: “The campaign… urges Israelis to report the particulars of acquaintances living abroad so that these people, who are ‘in danger’ of marrying non-Jews, can be persuaded to come to Israel.

“The 10-day Hebrew-language campaign has been mounted by MASA, a partnership between the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government that helps finance and market Israel programs for diaspora Jews.

More..



If you know someone marrying out, Israel wants to know

By Simon Rocker, September 7, 2009

An anti-assimilation campaign with Israeli government backing is generating fierce controversy, according to Ha’aretz.

The newspaper reports: “The campaign… urges Israelis to report the particulars of acquaintances living abroad so that these people, who are ‘in danger’ of marrying non-Jews, can be persuaded to come to Israel.

More..



I have not become a horse

By Simon Rocker, September 4, 2009

To anyone who might have noticed that yesterday's 4 o’clock race at Epsom included a runner called “Rocker”, I just want to re-assure you that I have not been changed, like some figure of Greek myth who has incurred the wrath of the gods, into a horse.

But to any loyal reader who might have taken a punt, I apologise – my equine namesake only came in fourth.

More..

Peacenik's fear over Israel

By Simon Rocker, September 3, 2009

One of Israel’s leading peace activists has denied that he and others in the peace movement, who have criticised Israel openly, had contributed to the atmosphere in which it was being demonised as an apartheid state.

More..

Bevis Marks Rabbi row deepens

By Simon Rocker, September 3, 2009

The dispute over the suspended rabbi of Bevis Marks Synagogue in London deepened this week after fresh attacks by his supporters on the handling of his suspension by Sephardi leaders.

Rabbi Natan Asmoucha was suspended six weeks ago by the mahamad (executive) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation over his involvement in an interfaith rally against high bank interest rates in July.

But now supporters are furious at the proposed postponement of a special meeting of the congregation, called to put a vote of no confidence in the executive.

More..

New points system for JFS entry

By Simon Rocker, September 3, 2009

New rules published this week by JFS in Kenton, North London — and likely to be followed by other Jewish secondaries — will offer places on the basis of points scored for synagogue attendance and other observance.

Parents will also need a certificate signed by their rabbi or another community official to testify to religious practice — mirroring the procedure in some Catholic schools.

More..



Sell It Not

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2009

Here’s a slice of red-toothed rabbinics from Matthew Wagner, writing in the Jerusalem Post. It begins:

More..



Tom Jones, ShabbesGoy

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2009

Dig deep enough and it seems that everyone has some kind of Jewish connection. And so it is with Sir Tom Jones. Mr Sex Bomb revealed to Bimah, the magazine of Welsh Jewry, that he had once, to use his own words, been a "Shabbesgoy" in Pontypridd.

"All the boys would hang around outside the shul on a Saturday eager to get a few pennies from the rabbi for going in and starting up the fire," he told compatriot Hannah Tobin who bumped in to him in Las Vegas.

And no the rabbi didn't sing, "Come on boyo, light my fire."

More..

Seen a ghost - who do you call?

By Simon Rocker, August 27, 2009

Both the lollypop lady and the baker on his delivery round saw it from the street — visible through a bedroom window was an 11-year-old girl, floating, it seemed, in mid-air. The story of the Enfield Poltergeist has continued to intrigue ghost-hunters since the first reports some 30 years ago of a single mother and her children being afflicted by apparently unexplained phenomena in their north London council house.

More..