Simon Rocker

Laura Marks: 'brave leaders change their mind'

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2015

Laura Marks has defended herself as a “brave, decisive leader” after earlier being accused of “flip-flopping” by one of her rivals to be president for Board of Deputies.

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Braced for benefit cuts

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2015

Most British Jews will be pleased or relieved at the election result, if our poll indicating that a significant majority intended to vote Conservative was accurate.

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What's at stake in the battle for kosher beef

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2015

It was like Chicago gang warfare during the prohibition, said the JC beneath the front-page headline "Knives out as kosher meat war hots up". When rival shochetim squared up to each other in the abattoir in 1986, it showed just how fractious disputes in the shechita trade can get.

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Another Tabick takes to the pulpit

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2015

The New North London Synagogue has appointed student rabbi Roni Tabick as assistant minister.

Mr Tabick, 32, who is shortly to receive his Conservative rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, is the son of Reform rabbis Jackie and Larry Tabick.

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Church will tackle hate, says Archbishop

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury has promised that the Church of England will take antisemitism seriously and apologised for an incident involving an Anglican priest this year.

In his first major address to a Jewish audience, Justin Welby told the Board of Deputies' annual dinner in London on Tuesday that there would be no repeat of an earlier episode where he had personally failed to protest.

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Sephardim could sell silver to meet deficit

By Simon Rocker, May 1, 2015

The Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation could sell some of its historic silver to help make ends meet.

Its annual deficit has reached “£350,000 and is increasing”, according to the latest accounts for the community, for the year ending October 2014.

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Parents’ despair over shortage of school places

By Simon Rocker, May 1, 2015

A mother whose daughter has failed to get into a Jewish secondary school has called on the educational authorities to provide extra places.

Debbie Diamond said her daughter had applied to go to JFS, Yavneh and JCoSS in autumn but remains on a waiting list of all three.

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It's a three-way fight in Board president election as nominations close

By Simon Rocker, May 1, 2015

The election for president of the Board of Deputies will be a three horse-race after nominations closed today.

Its three vice-presidents, Jonathan Arkush (Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue), Alex Brummer (United Synagogue) and Laura Marks (Movement for Reform Judaism), will fight it out to succeed outgoing leader Vivian Wineman on May 17.

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Lithuania to co-operate over Vilna Gaon grave site

By Simon Rocker, May 1, 2015

Lithuania is to erect a monument to mark the site of a historic Jewish cemetery that was once the resting place of the Vilna Gaon.

Representatives of the London-based Committee of the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries recently met Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius to discuss the future of the old Shnipishok cemetery.

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Charedi school is back on track, says Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2015

A Charedi girls' school in Stamford Hill which was ranked inadequate last year has been given a clean bill of health by inspectors.

Ofsted said that Beis Trana, which teaches around 280 girls from three to 16, now complies with the standards required of independent schools after an unannounced visit in March.

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US seeks closer Ohr Chodesh ties

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2015

The United Synagogue has been holding talks with Ohr Chodosh, the independent congregation run by London Beth Din head Dayan Menachem Gelley in Golders Green, about forming a closer relationship.

A US spokesman said it was looking at "assisting with the development of this growing community", but that discussions were at an early stage.

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Covering up for Galliano

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2015

A Jewish educational event featuring John Galliano In London next month, has prompted complaints - but not because of the fashion designer's controversial past. Objectors thought the model on the original advert for the occasion (right) was a little underdressed; a more suitably attired replacement has been found (left).

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Stephen Pack's Board comment was wrong, says former United Synagogue president

By Simon Rocker, April 28, 2015

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack’s warning that Reform candidate Laura Marks would be a “divisive” choice as president of the Board of Deputies has been sharply criticised by his predecessor.

Simon Hochhauser, who chaired the US from 2005 to 2011, said Mr Pack’s intervention was “wrong in principle and as a tactic”.

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John Galliano to star at London Jewish event

By Simon Rocker, April 24, 2015

Fashion designer John Galliano is to speak at the launch of a West End of London Jewish learning programme sponsored by the Chief Rabbinate.

His appearance will mark a further step in his rehabilitation within the Jewish community after he was sacked by Christian Dior four years ago for an antisemitic rant.

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Parents ‘distressed’ by school places shortage

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2015

Parents of Jewish primary school pupils have expressed frustration after large numbers of children have so far failed to secure places at Jewish secondary schools.

Juliette Lipshaw, deputy head of Michael Sobell Sinai primary in north-west London — where 12 out of 90 children are still waiting for a place — said that parents were “obviously very distressed”.

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Boost for appliance of science

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2015

Scientific co-operation between Israel and Britain has been strengthened with the signing of an agreement between two leading research organistions.

The Royal Society and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities will collaborate on a five-year exchange programme to build relationships between Israeli and British researchers.

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US rabbi: 'Do you really need a £100k wedding?'

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2015

Ministers might be so relieved that their congregants are planning to marry within the faith that they might be reluctant to criticise the wedding arrangements.

But extravagant celebrations fly in the face of traditional modesty, according to the head of a major north London United synagogue, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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Policies prompt a mixed outlook

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2015

"Inclusive" may seem a welcoming word - but not to Jewish schools. When the Liberal Democrats pledge to introduce "inclusive" admissions policies, they mean that faith schools will no longer be able to give priority to children from their own community.

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Failing Chasidic school improves

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2015

A North London Chasidic boys' school under threat of closure has been reprieved by the Department for Education

Talmud Torah Chaim Meirim Wiznitz, which is run by the Vishnitz Chasidim, had been criticised last year, in particular for failing to meet safety and welfare regulations.

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Three join the Chief's HQ team

By Simon Rocker, April 23, 2015

A public relations specialist with extensive knowledge of the Jewish charity sector is to be Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis's new director of communications. The PR Office's Mark Frazer is one of the three appointments made to strengthen the Office of the Chief Rabbi team.

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