Simon Rocker

A vital change, but prepare for a bumpy ride

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

For many parents, the proposed new Kedem secondary school cannot come a moment too soon. They want to avoid any repeat of last year's situation when a number of families could not send their child to a Jewish secondary school in north-west London.

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This will rock the school status quo

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2016

For most people, this week's publication of the plans by Kedem High School's backers came out of the blue.

The response from the establishment - the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the Partnerships for Jewish Schools (Pajes), an arm of the Jewish Leadership Council - has been far from blank-cheque support.

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Hasmonean boys school considering a move

By Simon Rocker, February 2, 2016

The Hasmonean High School is understood to be exploring the possibility of relocating its boys section from its current base in Hendon, north-west London.

As rumours circulated this week of a move in the offing, the school’s head teacher Andrew McClusky would confirm only that “we are looking into how we can enhance and improve our accommodation”.

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Plan for new Orthodox secondary school in London

By Simon Rocker, February 2, 2016

A new state-aided Orthodox Jewish secondary school is being planned to open in Barnet in September next year.

Prospective parents have been invited to a meeting on Thursday week to discuss proposals to launch the Kedem High School.

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Collected thoughts of women rabbis

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2016

Women Rabbis in the Pulpit
Edited by Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts and Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah.

Kulmus, £9.99

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Salford school returns to favour with Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, January 26, 2016

A state-aided Charedi girls’ high school is back in Ofsted inspectors’ good books less than 18 months after being ranked as inadequate — the lowest grade.

Beis Yaakov academy in Salford, which has 279 girls aged from 11 to 16, has “improved rapidly and significantly” since its last inspection and is now rated a good school, according to a report published this week.

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Home win buoys a growing shul

By Simon Rocker, January 26, 2016

One of the United Synagogue’s youngest communities has cleared a major obstacle to extending its premises after a protracted dispute with Enfield Council.

Planning Inspector Gloria MacFarlane has granted Hadley Wood Synagogue formal permission to continue to meet in the house it bought in 2002 following an appeal hearing last year.

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Federation sells spare cemetery land for £8.3m

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

The Federation of Synagogues has received a huge boost to its expansion plans after selling spare land at its Rainham cemetery in Essex for £8.3 million.

Around 20 acres inside the cemetery wall have been sold, along with land owned in the adjoining Spring Farm, to an organisation which owns several cemeteries in the UK.

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Worry over Ofsted plan to inspect faith schools

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

Government plans to register and inspect part-time schools and educational institutions are "a sledgehammer to crack a nut", an organisation representing Orthodox Jewish schools has warned.

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US launches women’s guide to saying Kaddish

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

The United Synagogue has responded to longstanding calls to do more for women mourners by publishing a booklet to help them say Kaddish.

The eight-page guide, produced at the instigation of the co-chair of US Women Jacqui Zinkin, is intended to make it easier for women to recite the mourning prayer in synagogue.

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Why the JLC own goal was so easy to avoid

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

The Jewish Leadership Council's commission on women in Jewish leadership was a concerted effort to break the male stranglehold on communal organisations.

Since the commission reported four years ago, the JLC has tried to encourage progress. The 16 participants on its Gamechangers scheme to groom future leaders was equally divided between men and women.

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Antisemitic views ignored by Euro-leaders, Israeli report claims

By Simon Rocker, January 24, 2016

European Union leaders are systematically ignoring antisemitic views held by their citizens, a new report presented to the Israeli government today warns.

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Merkel; antisemitism more 'widespread' than thought

By Simon Rocker, January 24, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged strong action against antisemitism, stating that it is more widespread than imagined.

In her weekly podcast yesterday, she said that "antisemitism is more pervasive than we imagine and that we must act intensively against it," according to Israeli media.

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Ukrainian oligarchs call off London court case

By Simon Rocker, January 23, 2016

A High Court showdown in London involving three Ukrainian Jewish businessmen is understood to have been averted at the last minute.

Victor Pinchuk’s case against Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoisky had been due to begin on Monday and scheduled to last for eight weeks.

But the disputing parties have reached an out-of-court settlement, according to sources close to the parties.

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Ofsted and a question of stoning

By Simon Rocker, January 21, 2016

The government’s attempt to nip extremism in the bud is having an increasing knock-on effect on strictly Orthodox Jewish schools.

Its “British values” agenda is intended to promote respect and tolerance for other cultures and faiths among children – in contrast to sectarian ideologies seen as a stepping-stone to militancy.

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Board warning over peer’s Bill to control religious courts

By Simon Rocker, January 19, 2016

The House of Lords has given further support to a private members bill to regulate religious tribunals which the Board of Deputies warns could hit Batei Din.

Cross-bencher Baroness Cox wants to force religious courts which arbitrate disputes to comply with equality law.

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Strictly Orthodox school in Stamford Hill ordered to close in government crackdown

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2016

An unregistered strictly Orthodox primary school has been ordered to close by the Department for Education in a further sign of a crackdown by the authorities on religious institutions operating outside the law.

Talmud Torah Tashbar in Stamford Hill, Hackney, has been told to shut down in a month.

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Lord Sacks wins top America book prize

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2016

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has won a top American Jewish book prize for the third year running.

His exploration of the origins of religious violence Not In God’s Name, which was published last year, won a National Jewish Book Award in the category of modern Jewish prize.

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Orthodox schools' anger over government inspection plan

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2016

Government plans to register and inspect part-time schools and educational institutions are “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”, an organisation representing Orthodox Jewish schools has warned.

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Tax threat to Jewish schools

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2016

Talks are going on with the tax authorities to prevent a change in policy which could cost Jewish schools tens of thousands of pounds a year.

For many years, state-aided schools have been able to claim as tax relief on contributions made by parents towards the cost of Jewish studies and security.

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