Simon Rocker

Poles knight Auschwitz rabbi

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

A rabbi who has led more than 150 study missions to Auschwitz has received a Polish knighthood for his services to Holocaust education and dialogue between Jews and Poles.

Rabbi Barry Marcus was presented with the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit by the Polish Ambassador, Witold Sobkow, in London.

Since taking his first group nearly 20 years ago, he has accompanied more than 25,000 stude

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Well suited to science

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

The cutting edge of Israeli science was shared with a select band of London diners by the Friends of Bar Ilan University last week.

Professor Ido Bachelet outlined research being done in the university's faculty of life sciences which, he said, "could revolutionise everything we know as medicine".

His team is developing tiny robots which could be injected into a patient to destroy cancer cel

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Breaking glass and breaking new ground

By Simon Rocker, October 31, 2014

For 15 years Natalie Grazin and Samantha Cohen have been stalwarts of the New North London Synagogue, the country's largest Masorti congregation.

They helped to found the egalitarian minyan Assif. They have a boy and a girl who attend Jewish primary school.

The couple, who met at Limmud in 1997, formally pledged their commitment to each other in 2005 in a brit ahavah, a covenant of love.

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Review: How I Stopped Being A Jew

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014


By Shlomo Sand


Verso, £9.99

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Yachad backed in Board bid

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

More than 70 former leaders of Jewish youth groups, students and Limmud have signed a letter backing Yachad's application to join the Board of Deputies.

The Board has twice postponed a decision on the bid from the liberal Zionist organisation which campaigns for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but is expected to vote on it next month.

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Ofsted raps 'narrow' Orthodox school

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

A state-aided strictly Orthodox girls school in Salford has been put into special measures after inspectors criticised its narrow curriculum and other failings.

The Beis Yaakov High School, an academy which teaches 258 girls from 11 to 16, was judged "inadequate" - the lowest of the four inspection grades - following an unannounced visit from Ofsted last month.

Rabbi Yochonon Goldlbatt, the

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Humanists probe Charedi education

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

A former Charedi school pupil has told a group of MPs and peers investigating fundamentalism that he received just half an hour of secular tuition a day.

The ex-student, who went to an independent strictly Orthodox school in Stamford Hill, London, briefed a closed session of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) last week.

He spoke of "the difficulty in leaving the community, as

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We're all thriving in these baking conditions

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

More than 3,000 women - and a few men - gave an extraordinary start to the Chief Rabbi's Shabbat UK by participating in the world's largest challah-make.

The response was so great that there were nearly 800 on the waiting list for the date with the dough at Allianz Park in north London, home of Saracens Rugby Club.

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Jews for Jesus relocates to heart of London Jewish community

By Simon Rocker, October 29, 2014

The missionary group Jews for Jesus is moving its London office to Hendon, into the heart of one of the most populated Jewish areas.

It has taken a shop opposite the tube station, which lies close to the local branch of Aish, the Jewish young adults’ organisation.

Jews for Jesus UK director Julia Pascoe said that while an opening date had not yet been set, it would be “by Chanucah”.

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Thousands join in challah bake as Shabbat UK gets off to a triumphant start

By Simon Rocker, October 24, 2014

More than 3,000 women – and a few men – gave an extraordinary start to the Chief Rabbi’s Shabbat UK by joining in a mass challah bake in London last night.

The response was so great that there were nearly 800 on the waiting list for the date with the dough at Allianz Park in London, home of Saracens Rugby Club.

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PM and political leaders voice support for Shabbat UK

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

More than 7,000 people are expected to take part in mass challah-making sessions in 26 locations around the UK as a prelude to Shabbat UK, the national Sabbath celebration launched by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this weekend.

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Masorti approves single-sex marriages

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

British Masorti has followed the Liberals and Reform movements by taking a historic decision to allow its rabbis to conduct same-sex marriages.

Gay couples will now be able to marry in Masorti synagogues in a move approved without opposition by the movement's trustees on Tuesday night.

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School faces closure threat

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

One of the largest Chasidic schools in London has been warned it could face closure if it does not improve provision for pupils' welfare, health and safety.

Inspectors found arrangements at the independent Talmud Torah Yetev Lev, in Stamford Hill, unsatisfactory after an unannounced visit in June.

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Faith schools' battle over British values

By Simon Rocker, October 23, 2014

Over the past few weeks, we have reported growing concerns about a possible backlash against faith schools, following the so-called "Trojan Horse" inquiry into Islamist indoctrination in a number of state schools this summer.

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Masorti makes history as rabbis approve same-sex marriage

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2014

The British Masorti movement has followed the Liberals and Reform by taking a historic decision to allow its rabbis to conduct same-sex marriages.

Gay and lesbian couples will now be able to marry in Masorti synagogues in a move approved without opposition by the movement’s trustees last night.

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He bloodied an Oxford nose

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2014

Brasenose went down to one of the heaviest University Challenge defeats suffered by an Oxford college when it was whopped 250 points to 35 by Durham in a first-round tie last week.

Former Durham J-Soc treasurer Daniel Morgan-Thomas, 21, led the way, answering seven starter questions correctly. The third-year historian and classicist from London said he was a lifelong fan of the show.

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Israeli MK to launch Cambridge Jewish centre

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2014

The founder of a secular yeshivah in Israel is to officially open a cross-communal Jewish education centre started by an Orthodox rabbi in Cambridge.

Ruth Calderon, who has promoted the study of classical Jewish texts for all Israelis and is also a Yesh Latid MK, will lecture at the Cambridge Lehrhaus on Sunday.

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Cryer has them in tears at JW3 birthday dinner

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2014

The JW3 community centre celebrated its first anniversary with a fundraising dinner which was short on speeches and long on entertainment.

Topping the line-up on Monday night was the veteran British comedy writer Barry Cryer, who described himself as "virilently pro-semitic".

He was in conversation with TV producer Dan Patterson, creator of Mock the Week.

JW3 founder, the philanthropist D

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Shoah on the Roadshow

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2014

A fascinating piece of Holocaust history emerged on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

Sunday's episode was filmed at Scone Castle in Perthshire, where one of the items brought for valuation was a portrait of Dr Tina Strobos.

Dr Strobos hid Jews in Amsterdam during the war, was a member of the Dutch resistance and a friend of Jewish artist Martin Monnickendam, who found time to paint her.

The p

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Oligarchs at war

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2014

A business dispute involving three Ukrainian Jewish billionaires is heading for a showdown at the High Court in London.

Igor Kolomoisky, who has emerged as a significant political figure in Ukraine in recent months, and British-based Gennadiy Bogolyubov have been sued by the third man, Victor Pinchuk.

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