Simon Rocker

School probed in exam row

By Simon Rocker, October 17, 2013

A strictly Orthodox girls’ school accused of censoring science questions in a GCSE paper this summer insists that it is complying with exam regulations.

The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Board (OCR) confirmed this week that it had found that part of an exam paper had been “obscured” by the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ High School in Hackney, north-east London.

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British Jews should know about Christians in Israel

By Simon Rocker, October 17, 2013

British Jews should be better informed about the situation of Christians in Israel and the West Bank in order to understand the concerns of churches abroad, according to an Israeli interfaith expert.

Sarah Bernstein, director of the Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian relations, who is originally from London, outlined the challenges facing Israel’s Christian minority during a UK visit.

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A biblical cry from 1949

By Simon Rocker, October 17, 2013

This week’s sidrah of Vayera is one of the most memorable in the Torah, containing among other things the seminal episode of the near-sacrifice of Isaac, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham’s bold challenge to God to spare the doomed cities, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?”

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Limmud backlash over visit by Chief

By Simon Rocker, October 17, 2013

The first major conflict of the new Chief Rabbi’s tenure erupted this week over his decision to attend the Limmud education conference in December.

More than 20 communal leaders have written to the JC attacking last week’s public condemnation of Chief Rabbi Mirvis by strictly Orthodox rabbis.

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Hertsmere has pupil drop after entry change

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2013

A Jewish primary school has suffered a sharp drop in take-up of nursery places after being forced to change its admissions rules.

Almost a third of the 60 nursery places at the Orthodox Hertsmere Jewish Primary were vacant at the start of the autumn term.

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After chairing shuls, women could soon be US trustees

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2013

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has been asked to lift one of the last remaining bars to women assuming leadership roles in the United Synagogue by allowing them to become trustees of the central Orthodox body.

US president Stephen Pack told a meeting of its lay council on Monday that Rabbi Mirvis had been asked to give a decision in time for next July’s election of trustee officers.

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Seeking raised United voice at Board

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2013

The United Synagogue is setting up a caucus to strengthen its voice at the Board of Deputies in response to what is seen as growing non-Orthodox influence there.

US president Stephen Pack said that its new Board of Deputies Action Group had been set up at the request of US deputies, although he acknowledged opposition from within the US to the move.

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British Jews - liberal, secular and not so shul-going

By Simon Rocker, October 11, 2013

The YouGov poll, which we report this week, offers fresh evidence that many British Jews regard themselves as secular or cultural rather than religious.

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Methodists considering abandoning boycott after talks with Board

By Simon Rocker, October 11, 2013

The Methodist Church this week agreed to consider alternatives to boycotting Israel after the Board of Deputies voiced concern about its policy on the Middle East.

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Orthodox disappointed over evolution teaching

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2013

The government has brushed aside objections from strictly Orthodox schools and made evolution a compulsory part of primary education from next September.

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Schools neglect of Religious Education ‘dangerous’

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2013

The Board of Deputies has warned that failures in teaching religious education in English schools is a “dangerous” trend.

An Ofsted report on RE published this week said that many pupils were leaving with “scant” knowledge and understanding.

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Renewed call for board/JLC merger after chief executive steps down

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2013

The president of Liberal Judaism has called on the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to renew efforts to unite into a single body.

Lucian Hudson said that last week’s decision by JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark to step down for health reasons created a new opportunity.

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British rabbis react to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's death

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2013

Rabbi Abraham Levy, emeritus spiritual head of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation in London, said that Rav Ovadia Yosef’s “halachic authority and knowledge was unequalled and undisputed – he was admired throughout world Jewry, Sephardi and Ashkenazi alike.” He was “at ease with the poor and the great of the state of Israel and did so much to ‘restore the crown’ of the Se

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Chief Rabbi challenged over Limmud

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2013

The former head of the London Beth Din Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu has fired a shot across the bows of new Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis by calling for a boycott of Limmud.

Rabbi Mirvis last month announced he would be the first serving chief rabbi to attend the cross-communal winter conference, which takes place in two months.

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All-Party group starts with 20 members

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2013

A group to promote Jewish issues in Parliament put behind it the arguments over its birth and launched in the House of Commons this week.

Hendon Conservative MP Matthew Offord, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, declared that there had been a “very good response” at its inaugural meeting on Wednesday.

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Concern over Methodist boycott survey

By Simon Rocker, October 9, 2013

Board of Deputies leaders are due to meet senior figures in the Methodist Church today to voice concern at an online survey about boycotting Israel.

Respondents are being asked by the church to say if they support action against Israel including economic sanctions or an academic boycott, what they believe to be the motives of the boycott campaign and what are the arguments against a boycott.

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Rabbi protests over lobbying bill

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2013

Leaders of two prominent Jewish organisations have signed a multi-faith letter of protest to Prime Minister David Cameron over a Bill to restrict political lobbying.

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Women enjoy a role at Succot in the Suburb

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2013

Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue has taken another step towards including women in the service by organising a procession for women with lulav and etrog over Succot.

In previous years, women have simply had to watch from the gallery as men paraded their arba minim — the four species used on Succot — around the bimah.

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The only way is Essex

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2013

Chigwell United Synagogue is continuing to enjoy rising membership with more than 700 families now on its books.
When Rabbi Baruch Davis arrived to lead the Essex community in 1997, it numbered around 510 families.

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UJIA makes a meal of a £3.3 million night

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2013

UJIA’s largest dinner in a decade raised £3.3 million for Israel and Zionist youth and education at home on Monday night — up £200,000 on last year’s event.

Dinner chair Keith Black said the support of the 870 guests sent “a resoundingly clear message that our community refuses to take Israel for granted and will not let our children take Israel for granted”.

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