Simon Rocker

The politics and numbers lying behind the bid for a new school

By Simon Rocker, July 14, 2016

Nicky Morgan is likely to see one wish fulfilled. Last month the then-Education secretary told a Jewish fundraising dinner that she would like to see more Jewish free schools. Well, now no fewer than three are planning to put in a bid to the Department for Education to open a new Jewish secondary free school in London in 2018.

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Second Chasidic school marked down by Ofsted over refusal to teach about sexual orientation

By Simon Rocker, July 11, 2016

A second Chasidic school within a week has been told that it is failing to meet independent school regulations because it will not teach about same-sex relationships.

Beis Malka Girls’ School, in Stamford Hill, north London, which is run by the Belz Chasidim, had “worked hard” to comply with statutory requirements, Ofsted said.

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Stamford Hill group plans new Charedi community in Harlow

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2016

A group of activists from Stamford Hill is planning to start a new Charedi community in the Essex town of Harlow.

The expanding Charedi population in Hackney and the high cost of housing in inner London have prompted the search for new locations.

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Corbyn could be recalled to antisemitism inquiry

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, could be recalled to face further questions at a parliamentary inquiry on antisemitism.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said that it would consider on Tuesday whether to summon Mr Corbyn to reappear following complaints about some of the answers he gave last Monday.

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Ofsted criticises Charedi school for failing to teach about same-sex orientation

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2016

A Chasidic school has been judged to fall short of required standards because it will not teach children about sexual orientation.

Boys at the Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass in Stamford Hill, north London, were “shielded” from certain topics because of its “unconditional adherence to the Shulchan Aruch”, the Code of Jewish Law, Ofsted said.

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Burial board says it cannot afford transfer request

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2016

Glasgow Hebrew Burial Society has rejected a request from an out-of-town member to transfer his burial dues, claiming that it cannot afford to do so.

David Sakol, 78, who has paid subscriptions to the society for 60 years, asked if his burial rights could be transferred to the United Synagogue in London, where he has lived for seven years.

But GHBS chair Alan Shenkin said its policy of not a

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Hasmonean asks parents to fund additional places

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2016

The chairman of Hasmonean High School has made a dramatic plea to parents to dig deeper into their pockets to enable the school to accept additional children this year.

Hasmonean has accepted more than 180 boys and girls for September - more than 20 per cent above its official maximum - and Andrew Rashbass appealed for extra money at its London fundraising dinner to fund places for seven more b

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Intermarriage at record high – but rate of increase slows

By Simon Rocker, July 7, 2016

New research into intermarriage among British Jews has shown that it is at its highest level for generations. The report, by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, claims that marrying out is having a "corrosive" effect on the Jewish population.

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What to do about intermarriage?

By Simon Rocker, July 7, 2016

When the Institute for Jewish Policy Research launched its report on marriage this week, there was surprise among the audience.

Although the intermarriage rate, at 26 per cent, has reached an all-time in the UK, many had expected it to be higher. If it has not quite plateaued, it has risen only slightly in the past couple of decades.

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Wolf goes on the walls of Oxford

By Simon Rocker, July 7, 2016

The walls of Oxford colleges are lined with the pictures of lots of men in gowns. But the university is busy commissioning paintings of women, gay and black people to counter its elitist male image, according to the Sunday Times.

One alumna newly selected for display is American feminist author Naomi Wolf, whose photo is to go up shortly.

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Charedi warning over safety after boys' rescue

By Simon Rocker, July 7, 2016

The head of London's Strictly Orthodox rabbinate has warned schools and community groups to take proper precautions for educational trips following the rescue of a group of Charedi youth on the Kent coast last month.

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa wrote to say that health and safety rules must "always be adhered to" and appropriate preparations made for outings.

Rabbi Padwa, head of the rabbinate of th

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Research projects large shortage of school places

By Simon Rocker, July 7, 2016

There will be a shortage of 90 places a year at state-aided Jewish secondary schools in north-west London over the next few years, according to fresh estimates released this week.

The number, which represents the equivalent of three additional classes, would not be enough on its own to fill a new Jewish school.

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Nicky Morgan calls for more Jewish free schools

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2016

Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, has said that she hoped the Jewish community would set up more free schools and lauded the contribution of faith.

She promised that the government would protect the ethos of religious schools and noted concern among parts of the Jewish community over recent inspections.

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New school to transform special needs education

By Simon Rocker, June 30, 2016

A new Jewish school is set to transform provision for children with special educational needs in north-west London.

The Gesher primary school will open in September 2017 on the campus of the Michael Sobell Sinai School in Kenton, specialising in support for children who are on the autism spectrum.

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Cost-saving scheme launched for schools

By Simon Rocker, June 30, 2016

A new scheme is under way to help Jewish schools cut their running costs and save more of their money for teaching.

The Jewish Schools Network believes that it will be more cost-effective for schools to buy utilities and services collectively rather than alone.

Brian Jones, who joined the Michael Sobell Sinai Primary School in London as finance director in September, has been seconded one d

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The dog who helps turn pages

By Simon Rocker, June 30, 2016

Yavneh College has a new learning assistant to help improve pupils' literacy - Flick, a 12-year-old Jack Russell terrier.

Once a week the dog comes into Borehamwood secondary school with her owner, Susan Marks, to lend a paw in Year-seven classrooms.

Research has shown that children who struggle with reading fiction aloud can overcome their anxiety with moral support from a four-legged frien

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JLC leader Sir Mick Davis praises New Israel Fund for “trying to rehabilitate the Zionist dream”

By Simon Rocker, June 27, 2016

Sir Mick Davis, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, saluted the work of the New Israel Fund at a reception for its international board on Sunday night.

The JLC leader described NIF’s support for minority rights and healing civil society as “very important”.

He said that the organisation should be “hugely applauded” for “trying to rehabilitate the Zionist dream”.

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I was made to feel like a mass murderer over female ordination, says women’s seminary founder

By Simon Rocker, June 27, 2016

The American Orthodox rabbi who paved the way for the ordination of women invited members of a British audience to study at his institutions and “join in the dream”.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, the founder of the women’s seminary Yeshivat Maharat in New York, said there was “no barrier to whatsoever to women being ordained, women becoming rabbis as men”.

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Canvey MP welcomes Charedi arrivals

By Simon Rocker, June 23, 2016

Plans to set up a Charedi community on Canvey Island in the Thames Estuary have been welcomed by the local MP.

After a recent meeting with representatives from the strictly Orthodox community, Rebecca Harris, the MP for Castle Point, said that it was "encouraging to hear how enthusiastic they are about playing a part and contributing to the local community".

She added that it was "nice to he

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T​he DIY spirit that is defying the impact of religious recession

By Simon Rocker, June 23, 2016

The first night of Pesach conveniently fell on a Friday night this year, making it easier for many people to organise a Seder.

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