Simon Rocker

US: We hold the key to Board-JLC merger deal

By Simon Rocker, July 17, 2014

A merger of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council would largely depend on the view of the United Synagogue, US president Stephen Pack said this week.

The Board and the JLC have been in discussions for more than a year over possible unification.

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United Synagogue makes history as four women voted to top table

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2014

It may not have been as revolutionary as the Church of England at last approving women bishops.

But the United Synagogue, Britain’s largest Orthodox synagogue grouping, took a historic step last night by voting women on to its executive for the first time.

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The state of Chabad

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2014

Twenty years after Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson's death, Chabad's outreach work has not quite stretched to every corner of the globe.

Their rabbi-and-rebbetzin teams surprisingly cover only 49 of America's states.

Newly-appointed Rabbi Akiva Hall is their first full-time representative in Mississippi, leaving only South Dakota Chabad-less.

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Yofi coffee

By Simon Rocker, July 10, 2014

Tensions may be rising in the Middle East but coffee remains the hot topic for Israelis, who have lobbied against high beverage prices at Ben Gurion Airport.

The Israel Airports Authority agreed this week to install cost-cutting vending machines, leaving passengers able to buy a coffee for seven shekels (£1.20) instead of the previously sky-high 18 NIS (£3.10).

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Booklog: Israel Mattuck

By Simon Rocker, July 6, 2014

Rabbi Danny Rich,
Liberal Judaism, £4.99

Israel Mattuck was one of the three "M"s who shaped Liberal Judaism in the UK (alongside Claude Montefiore and Lily Montagu). Arriving from the USA in 1912, he established himself over the next 40 years as one of the leading preachers of his generation.

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Envoys support Laurence Brass in Israel criticism row

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

A group of former Israeli diplomats and politicians have sprung to the defence of Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass over his outspoken comments about the situation of Palestinians on the West Bank.

Mr Brass has been under fire for expressing shock after a recent visit to the area with British campaign group Yachad.

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Hamas links denied

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

One of Britain's leading Muslim charities has rejected allegations of links with Hamas after being banned by the Israeli government last week from operating in the West Bank.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon accused Birmingham-based Islamic Relief Worldwide of funnelling money to Hamas-controlled organisations.

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Rabbi Galloway, I presume

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

You seldom see men in hats these days unless they are Orthodox Jews or ministers in the Nigerian government. So will Respect MP George Galloway be coming to a minyan down your way soon?

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Doubled-up diplomats

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

British Israel Ambassador Matthew Gould, speaking at a London dinner this week, said that he is often mistaken for his Israeli counterpart in London, Daniel Taub. "I had assumed that this would be happening to him as well," he said. "So I asked him this morning over breakfast, 'I imagine you're mistaken for me?'" Ambassador Taub's response was emphatic. "No."

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Gary Oldman apology 'insufficient'

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League has said that an apology by actor Gary Oldman for remarks about Jewish control of Hollywood was "insufficient".

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The new envoys - an Ethiopian and a Bedouin flying the flag for Israel

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

Eginsu Meyer, her husband Joel and their one-year-old daughter Eliya have been living for a year in Golders Green. About the only thing it has in common with her birthplace - an Ethiopian village called Gayne - is that it begins with "G".

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Rabbi’s Islam peace message to go on sale

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2014

A letter from an Israeli Chief Rabbi arguing that the closeness of Islam to Judaism could help the cause of Middle East peace is to go on sale tomorrow.

It was written by Israel’s first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Isaac Herzog, in 1954 to Professor Abraham Katsh, who had published a book on “Judaism in Islam”,

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Board of Deputies sells HQ for £5.8 million

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2014

The Board of Deputies is set to make a large profit from the sale of its central London headquarters, in Bloomsbury for £5.8 million.

The deal will allow for the Board to remain in the grade two-listed building, the childhood home of Benjamin Disraeli, till early next year.

It is expected to relocate to Camden close to other leading communal organisations such as the UJIA.

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Wanted: undercover chasids

By Simon Rocker, June 22, 2014

A Stamford Hill rabbi called a meeting last week, looking for able-bodied men between the ages of 35 and 50 to embark on a secret nocturnal mission.

According to a report on a Hebrew website, he was concerned about yeshivah boys frequenting casinos and other places of dubious repute instead of being tucked up with their Talmuds.

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Praise for leader who transformed Lubavitch

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Few Jews today would not have heard of Lubavitch, but when Rabbi Nachman Sudak came to the UK in 1959, its name would have drawn a blank for most. He was one of the early disciples of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, who transformed Chabad from simply one Chasidic sect among many to an international outreach Jewish movement.

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Miliband warms the hearts of the Labour Friends

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Opposition leader Ed Miliband received a standing ovation at the Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch on Tuesday after his most personal declaration of pride in his Jewishness since his election to the role four years ago.

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Gefiltefest once again cooks up an appetising foodies' menu

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Israeli food writer Gil Hovav was on hot form. His first session at Sunday's Gefiltefest, the foodie equivalent of Limmud, was on how to make zchug, the fiery Yemeni salsa.

Generous bunches of coriander lay on the table along with heads of garlic, bags of green chilli and assorted spices, alongside hand-held blenders.

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Pack stays US leader

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack is set for a second three-year term of office after being unopposed in next month's election.

Mr Pack, 64, a member of Hadley Wood Synagogue, said the US had "a new chief rabbi, a new chief executive and we're going to have a new strategic plan.

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Hendon school forced to end priority admissions

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Another Jewish primary school has been forced to change its entry rules after being told it can no longer give priority for reception class places to children in its nursery.

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UK Lubavitch head Rabbi Nachman Sudak dies

By Simon Rocker, June 16, 2014

Rabbi Nachman Sudak, the man who built Lubavitch in the UK, has died aged 78.

Since his arrival here in 1959 as the personal emissary of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, he dedicated his life to implementing the movement’s unique outreach ethos.

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