Simon Rocker

Jacobson's santastic story

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2015

On Radio 4's A Point of View, Howard Jacobson recalled a primary school essay about Christmas. It meant, he said, "seeing my father dressed as Santa Claus, getting stuck coming down the chimney".

The teacher thought he'd made it up. "'Isn't your family, er…' she said. 'Yes,' I replied.

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Harry’s the toast of Wales

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2015

As master of ceremonies at innumerable simchahs over the years, Harry Poloway has made sure the glasses were charged and the band was ready.

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Second US Edgware shul will ‘destroy’ Yeshurun

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2015

A member of Edgware's Yeshurun Federation Synagogue has accused the United Synagogue of attempting to destroy it by starting a new congregation nearby.

Services are to begin at Ahavas Yisrael - "Love of Israel" - at the end of next month.

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Beth Din targets ‘abhorrent’ get refuser

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2015

The London Beth Din has resorted for a second time in two months to naming and shaming a man accused of denying his wife a get.

Posters were sent earlier this month to a number of synagogues in Golders Green and Hendon, north-west London, denouncing the "abhorrent conduct" of Shmiel Kahan.

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The friends heading the team at Limmud

By Simon Rocker, December 22, 2015

Jo Ish-Horowicz

The 29-year-old doctor has attended an incredible 25 conferences.

How did you get involved in Limmud?
I had no choice in the matter - my parents brought me when I was six months old. But I was soon hooked and couldn't wait to be a part of the team as soon as I was tall enough to see over the helpdesk.

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Schools back Chief’s plan to teach Islam

By Simon Rocker, December 22, 2015

Europe's largest Jewish school, JFS, is to follow the recommendation of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and teach Islam to GCSE students from next September.

Rabbi Mirvis suggested last week that schools under his auspices choose Islam for GCSE religious studies to meet the government's new requirement to cover a second faith.

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Limmud's new venue should make this year the best conference yet, say organisers

By Simon Rocker, December 21, 2015

Limmud’s switch from a campus to a city hotel is the biggest change in the conference for many years.

But the new venue has not put off the punters. When the event opens in Birmingham on Sunday – after a pre-conference Shabbaton – organisers expect a record attendance of more than 2,600 over the course of five days.

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Where have all the Israelis gone?

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

Charedi MK Rabbi Yisroel Eichler of the United Torah Judaism party was in town recently.

In an interview with the Jewish Tribune, he set out his view why there was "no place" for a yeshivah student to be in the Israeli army.

Whereas the number of soldiers was important in the past, today technology made it possible for an army to fight with fewer people, he argued.

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Oil's well that ends well

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

Outnumbered, "they proved that freedom can prevail over tyranny. Hope can triumph over despair. Light can prevail over darkness," said American President Barack Obama at the White House Chanucah do. "That sounds like a description of the new Star Wars movie." After The Force Awakens, what next - The Dreidel Spins?

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Ice touch for Chanucah

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

L'Chaim Chabad Lubavitch Manchester brought a new cool to candle-lighting with this ice menorah, lit outside a Tesco car park.

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Not quite Aston Hezbollah

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

Here's a case of lost in translation. At a recent Aston Villa match, BBC's Match of the Day remarked on the presence of the club's ex-chairman Doug Ellis in "his Villa scarf". But, as the Birmingham Mail reported, the Beeb had to apologise for subtitles for the hard of hearing that said it was great to see Mr Ellis "with Hezbollah".

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His finger on Mr Trump’s pulse

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

If Donald Trump were elected US president next year, at 70 he would be the oldest incoming incumbent. But age should be no impediment.

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Tree top surprise for JNF

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

The JNF knows a thing or two about trees - it's planted 240 million of them in Israel.

But how this young ash (as I am told it is) came to make its home on the roof of JNF UK's London HQ remains a mystery to staff.

Now they are debating whether to transplant it to the Lord Sacks forest in Israel or let it stay put. I go for the JNF roof garden.

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Ofsted investigating 'antisemitic material' found in schools

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2015

Ofsted has said it cannot disclose further details of antisemitic material found during the inspection of unregistered Muslim schools because of the possibility of future prosecutions.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has asked the inspection service to prepare cases against schools suspected of operating beyond the law.

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Teach Islam in our schools, says Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

By Simon Rocker, December 16, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has recommended that Jewish schools teach Islam as part of the new GCSE religious studies curriculum which requires them to teach a second faith.

Rabbi Mirvis and other Orthodox groups had originally lobbied against the changes to the course, which come into effect next September.

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North-West London eruv should only be used by those with 'genuine need' says new Hendon rabbi

By Simon Rocker, December 14, 2015

The prospective new rabbi of Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue has said that members can use the North-West London eruv but that they should not push buggies to shul.

Rabbi Shloime Yitzchok Bixenspanner from Canada is expected to take up his position at the strictly Orthodox community next summer after members voted to choose him last week.

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Proposed admissions changes have only upped the uncertainty

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2015

There have been few more emotive subjects over the past year than school admissions, as competition for Jewish school places grows.

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Girls' school puts brake on student drivers

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2015

A strictly Orthodox girls' school in Hendon has told pupils that they should not drive in.

The independent Beth Jacob Grammar has issued a reminder of an existing rule, which applies only to "a few girls" as the school has only one sixth-form year.

A number of reasons, including safety, were behind the policy, a spokesperson explained.

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Rabbi is not a unanimous choice

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2015

Hendon Adath's newly chosen rabbi is expected to take up his post at the strictly Orthodox community before next Rosh Hashanah.

But in a vote of members, there were 54 against the appointment of Rabbi Shloime Yitzchok Bixenspanner from Canada - with 101 in favour.

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Call for new 'trust and respect' with Christians

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2015

A group of leading modern Orthodox rabbis have issued a significant declaration on the Jewish approach to Christianity, describing it as a "gift to the nations".

Signed by more than 20 rabbis mainly from the United States and Israel, it calls on Jews and Christians to overcome historic fears in order to establish a "relationship of trust and respect".

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