Simon Rocker

Wanted - field workers to join farm project

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2016

Londoner Talia Chain is looking to move to rural Kent in a few weeks as the first stage of a plan to set up a Jewish educational farm.

She and like-minded friends have been inspired by American Jewish environmental programmes to launch a similar project here called Sadeh, the Hebrew word for "field".

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Threatened Chasidic school wins Ofsted approval

By Simon Rocker, October 9, 2016

A Chasidic boys’ school in Stamford Hill threatened with closure two years ago has won its battle to remain open.

Chaim Meirim Talmud Torah Wiznitz has been told it now meets all the required standards for independent schools for health, safety and pupil wellbeing following a fresh visit from inspectors.

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Arrest after axe-wielding incident near Manchester synagogue

By Simon Rocker, October 9, 2016

A man has been arrested after an axe-wielding incident near a Manchester synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Police were called to the junction of Singleton Road and Bury Old Road in Prestwich on Monday lunchtime after the driver of a vehicle was heard making verbal threats.

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Moving services geared to bringing the young into shul

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2016

A new minyan launching on Saturday is aimed at making shul a "must-go" experience for young people rather than a twice-yearly chore.

The United Synagogue's first Minyan on the Move will be held at Finchley Synagogue tomorrow morning and the plan is to run it at different locations through the year.

"We're looking to take it on the road," said Josh Zaitschek, the Young US rabbi.

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Rise in unregistered yeshivot, council finds

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2016

The number of unregistered yeshivot in Stamford Hill has climbed to more than 30, despite attempts to regulate them, according to an education authority.

Hackney Learning Trust, run by the local council, has updated its list from earlier this year of 28 such institutions,to 33 at the latest count.

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Clear divide between free school bids

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2016

The contest to open a new Jewish secondary school in London boils down to a straight choice: between the establishment-backed Kavanah College and the more independently-minded Barkai College.

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Inspectors criticise narrow education in Charedi schools

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2016

Charedi independent schools are continuing to feel the heat from inspectors, according to a new batch of reports released over the past month.

No fewer than six strictly Orthodox schools were judged by Ofsted to fall short of the required standards.

But on the plus side, three Charedi schools have bucked the critical trend and received favourable inspections.

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Effort to unify rival Orthodox free school bids

By Simon Rocker, September 29, 2016

Attempts are being made to unite the two groups vying to set up a new Orthodox secondary school in London even after they submitted their applications to the Department for Education this week.

Kavanah College, which is backed by the United Synagogue and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and Barkai College hope to open free schools as early as next September if their bids are successful.

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Student leaders urge NUS to tackle concerns over antisemitism

By Simon Rocker, September 28, 2016

More than 40 student leaders have issued an open letter calling on their national union to address the concerns of Jewish students over antisemitism.

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Schools regulator orders Yavneh College to modify entry policy

By Simon Rocker, September 27, 2016

Yavneh College’s controversial decision to reject priority entry for children from local Jewish primary schools in Hertfordshire has been upheld by the government’s admissions regulator.

But the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has ordered the oversubscribed academy to change its entry rules for September 2017 after complaints from 33 people.

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Spot the difference

By Simon Rocker, September 15, 2016

One is the logo of a new body designed to turn the Labour Party's new membership into an effective campaigning body.

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A new dawn at Yavneh

By Simon Rocker, September 15, 2016

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis celebrated a "red-letter day for everyone in British Jewry" at the opening of its newest state-aided school - the Yavneh Primary in Borehamwood, Elstree.

The new free school, sited behind its older sibling, Yavneh College, will operate from portable classes for two years until a permanent building is erected.

A full complement of 60 children will begin learning in

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Work together on school plans, US urges groups

By Simon Rocker, September 8, 2016

The United Synagogue wants a co-ordinated approach under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to address the predicted shortage of places in Jewish secondary schools in north-west London.

Two applications to open a Jewish secondary free school are set to go to the Department for Education this month, although neither has so far gained the Chief Rabbi's support.

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Pop-up pair launch new kind of prayer

By Simon Rocker, September 8, 2016

Over the past year, Rabbi Naftali and Dina Brawer have run a number of pop-up minyans every few weeks - an experimental Shabbat morning service in locations around London.

But now they are going into pop-up plus, holding High Holy Day services to launch their new enterprise, Mishkan, "a community beyond borders".

Instead of having a congregation tied to one neighbourhood, the Orthodox couple

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Farewell A* and Cs, hello grades 9 to 5

By Simon Rocker, September 8, 2016

Schools naturally want to show their exam results in the best light. But the recent GCSE and A-level results tables published in some newspapers are selective. The first set of national data from the Department for Education is not due out until the autumn.

But parents, be warned.

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Model young mensches

By Simon Rocker, September 8, 2016

Finchley Reform Synagogue's kindergarten has rapidly restored its reputation for excellence after being downgraded as inadequate by Ofsted in March.

On a return visit in July, inspectors found "significant improvement" and rated it outstanding in all areas.

They said its well-behaved children make "rapid progress" and enjoy an "extensive range of high-quality learning experiences".

They p

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Foreign Office criticises Israel over settlement homes

By Simon Rocker, September 4, 2016

Israel has been sharply criticised by the British government over plans to build new homes in West Bank settlements.

Tobias Ellwood, Middle East Minister, said that the policy called into question Israel's commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

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Chakrabarti denies peerage was quid pro quo for Labour antisemitism report

By Simon Rocker, September 4, 2016

The human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti today rejected any suggestion that she had been offered a peerage by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before the completion of her report on antisemitism and racism in the party.

Her acceptance of the honour had been widely condemned by Jewish organisations as compromising the independence of her inquiry.

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Shul scraps burial entry fees for middle-aged

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2016

One of Liberal Judaism's largest communities has taken the bold step of scrapping the entrance fee to its burial society for new middle-aged members.

From now, anyone aged between 50 and 69 joining Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue will have the burial society entrance fee waived, potentially saving a couple more than £1,760.

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Pioneering course will change the landscape

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2016

Ten students are gearing up to start the Chief Rabbi's first training programme for women religious educators next month.

When they complete the part-time 18-month course, they will earn the title of "maayan", a unique qualification for Orthodox women in the UK.

While the course will focus on taharat hamishpachah, the laws of family purity, it will go beyond mikveh-related questions to broad

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