Simon Rocker

ZF cancels talks by lecturer with anti-Islamist links

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

The Zionist Federation this week cancelled appearances at three Jewish schools by an outspoken Israeli academic following concerns about his links to an anti-Islamist activist banned from Britain.

Dr Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Israeli Arabs who regularly appears to defend Israel on Arabic stations such as Al Jazeera, was due to begin a speaking tour on Wednesday night.

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Mirvis bans women from reading Torah

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has ruled out women reading from the Sefer Torah as part of Orthodox services.

He made his view clear this week as it emerged that he had blocked women from one of his communities who wanted a women-only Torah reading on Simchat Torah.

Rabbi Mirvis said: "Our mesorah (tradition) sets out halachic lines and it is not my halachic view that women may read from a Sefer

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Meet the Trotskyist anti-Zionist who saw the errors of his ways

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

Few authors oppose publication of their work. But retired Belgian lawyer Nathan Weinstock has refused any reprint of the book for which he is probably best known here.

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Schools will not be compelled to teach other faiths

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2014

The government has made clear that faith schools will not be forced to teach about other religions.

Representatives of Orthodox Jewish schools welcomed the assurances, which came in new guidelines on promoting British values in schools.

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Why British values could be a headache for schools

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

The fallout from the Trojan Horse inquiry into allegations of Islamic extremism in summer continued this week as the head of the inspection service Ofsted underlined the importance of promoting British values in schools.

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Warning over discrimination at work

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Jews are still suffering discrimination and bullying in the workplace because of their religion, according to the Board of Deputies.

More than 30 people have contacted the organisation in recent years with problems about leaving work early in winter for Shabbat, while teachers and others have had trouble taking time off for festivals.

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Is American Jewry on the edge of the abyss?

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Yosef Mendelevitch, who is coming to next month's Limmud conference, is one of the heroes of the refusenik movement who defied the oppressive yoke of Communism. His Jewish activism did not stop after his release from Soviet jail. He became an Orthodox rabbi in Israel, sporting a long, white beard.

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Workplace warning

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Jews are suffering discrimination in the workplace because of their religion, according to the Board of Deputies.

More than 30 people have contacted the organisation with problems about leaving work early in winter for Shabbat, while teachers and others have had trouble taking time off for festivals.

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A cheder where the fire still burns bright

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Ten-year-old Jack Lucas stands before the open Torah. He has just been challenged by South Hampstead Associate Rabbi Eli Levine to pick out any word he can from the forbidding rows of vowel-less black letters.

For a child who has never read blind from a Sefer, it is a tall order and would defeat many a United Synagogue parent.

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Two more east London shuls to merge

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

For the second time in less than a month, two synagogues in the east London area have decided to merge.

When Clayhall and Newbury Park in Essex agreed to join forces, it was the first merger of United shuls in a decade.

Now, members of the US Wanstead and Woodford Synagogue and the independent Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation have followed suit, voting overwhelmingly for union last week.

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Hendon falling out

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

Members of North Hendon Adath Yisroel Congregation were due to attend a special meeting on Wednesday night to discuss differences within its ranks.

Its secretary Henry Ehreich told congregants in an email that "the shul has recently encountered fundamental issues that place its ethos at risk and can only be solved if confronted honestly and decisively".

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New Israel Fund pledges opposition to bill

By Simon Rocker, November 27, 2014

The New Israel Fund will oppose the nation-state bill "in any form which seeks to alter the vision of Israel's founders and harm Israel's democratic character," said the chief executive of its UK branch, Adam Ognall.

The Office of the Chief Rabbi and the Jewish Leadership Council have declined to express a view on the bill.

But Mr Ognall argued that British Jewry should be at the "forefront

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Ofsted head will meet faith leaders over promoting British values in schools

By Simon Rocker, November 25, 2014

The head of inspection service Sir Michael Wilshaw today said he is to meet faith leaders as part of its drive to ensure that schools promote British values.

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Ambassador's fears over declining support for Israel

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2014

Britain’s Israel Ambassador Matthew Gould has dismissed the idea that better advocacy would improve Israel’s standing in the Western world.

In a lecture in London in which he voiced fears of a growing erosion of sympathy with Israel, he said: “I don’t think this is primarily a failure of hasbarah, a failure of public diplomacy.”

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UK religious leaders condemn synagogue attack

By Simon Rocker, November 21, 2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury and a senior Muslim leader have co-signed a letter with the Chief Rabbi in today’s Times condemning the murder of five Israelis in a synagogue this week.

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A new attempt to solve the who-is-a-Jew crisis

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

It is not every day that diaspora Jews are encouraged by Israelis to intervene in their country's affairs. But a few weeks ago an advertisement in this newspaper urged readers to petition the Israeli government.

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What the doctor ordered

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

Fame has fallen on Dr Phil Moss, emergency room director of St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, whose department features in 24 Hours in A&E on Thursday nights.

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Wall women grateful for mini-Torah from the UK

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

A tiny Sefer Torah loaned from Britain is playing its part in a campaign by women to hold prayer services at the Western Wall.

The Women of the Wall group are officially prohibited from using a Sefer Torah by the site's rabbinical authorities.

But last month they smuggled in the Sefer for a batmitzvah - and they plan to use it again for another on Sunday, which coincides with Rosh Chodesh, t

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Synagogue to hold first single-sex wedding

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

When Paul Ginsberg and Eli Kaufman step under the chupah at Finchley Reform Synagogue on Sunday, they could be making history.

The couple are thought to be the first to have a same-sex Jewish wedding in a synagogue in this country.

Mr Ginsberg, 35, who works at the Royal Society of Arts, met Mr Kaufman, 32, an operations manager at a driving performance centre, who is originally from Israel,

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Poll reveals children's fear of other faiths

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

One in 10 children in primary schools thinks that people who are religious, or from a different religion from their own, are "dangerous", according to a survey.

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the Bible Society, also found that nearly three in four teachers believe the education system could do more to tackle inter-religious strife by changing children's attitudes.

More than 25 per cent

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