Simon Rocker

Israeli rabbi drowns in London mikveh after suffering a heart attack

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2014

No inquest will be held into the death of an Israeli rabbi who collapsed in a mikveh before Shabbat last Friday.

More..

Sex abuse arrest at Jewish school

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2014

Police investigating allegations of sexual abuse of pupils at Carmel College, the now closed Jewish public school, have made an arrest, the JC has learned.

Thames Valley Police said that a 76-year-old man from Essex had been arrested and had been released on bail until March 24 this year.

More..

The rugby rabbi’s conversion

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2014

He could have been the answer to the England rubgy team’s prayers during its testing Six Nations tie against Ireland last weekend.

Instead, Rabbi Yitzchak Greenblatt, a former front-row forward for England at under-16 and under-18 levels, was reciting Shabbat prayers in London.

More..

Partnership minyans are ‘outside Orthodoxy’

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2014

A leading British Orthodox rabbi has dismissed partnership minyans – services where women can and read from the Torah and lead some of the prayers – as “a step towards Reform Judaism”.

More..

School must do better

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

The Lubavitch Boys' Primary School in north London has been told that it must do better after its first inspection since becoming state-aided in 2012.

Ofsted, which visited last month, said that the school overall "requires improvement" because the "quality of teaching is not yet good".

Pupils did "not make enough progress in some year groups, particularly in reading and writing", Ofsted rep

More..

Sheffield joins the US

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

Sheffield's Orthodox congregation has become the first northern community to join the London-based United Synagogue.

US president Stephen Pack hailed "an immensely significant moment" in the history of the US after members of the 250-member community voted for the move by an overwhelming majority on Sunday.

Sheffield president Edward Patnick said: "Our proposed membership of the United Synag

More..

Hineni: Made in Wales, shown in London

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

There are probably more Welsh-born Jews living in London, Manchester and Israel than remain in the principality. But sometimes the traffic goes the other way.

When Londoner Colin Heyman was offered a job in Cardiff in 1980, he jumped at the chance.

“I’d never been to Cardiff but I loved Wales,” he recalls. He had fallen for the country when walking its hills as a student in Bristol.

More..

Shuls prepare for same-sex marriages

By Simon Rocker, February 21, 2014

The location of the first same-sex Jewish marriage is still to be revealed five weeks before new legislation permitting gay or lesbian couples to wed comes into force.

Religious groups can apply from March 13 to hold same-sex marriages on their premises, with the first ceremonies in theory able to take place after midnight Saturday March 29.

More..

Multi-millionaire plans to give books to UK children

By Simon Rocker, February 21, 2014

In the digital age, the People of the Book may be in the process of becoming the People of the iPad.

But for one American Jewish entrepreneur, a book at bedtime is still an irreplaceable experience for children.

Every month, Harold Grinspoon’s PJ Library sends out nearly 350,000 Jewish-themed books free for children aged from six months to eight years in the US, Israel and elsewhere.

More..

Chief Rabbi’s first official Israel visit

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2014

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is to lead a rabbinical mission to Israel in May in order to put education about Israel “firmly back in the pulpit”.

The expected participation of 50 Orthodox rabbis would make it the largest mission of its kind mounted by a chief rabbi, his office believed.

More..

Facebook refuses to act over ‘blood libel’

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2014

Facebook has rejected calls to delete a page which promotes the belief that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children.

One British rabbi is so incensed at the continuing presence of the “Jewish Ritual Murder” page he has complained to the police.

More..



How far will the Chief Rabbi go on women?

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2014

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week spelt out the reasons for his opposition to partnership minyans at the annual conference for United Synagogue rabbis.

Two months ago he announced that PMs – semi-egalitarian Orthodox services where women can read from the Torah – were inappropriate to hold on US premises.

More..

School criticised by Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, February 17, 2014

A Chasidic primary boys' school in Hackney has been criticised by Ofsted for giving pupils an inadequate secular education after an emergency inspection.

An inspector arrived unannounced last month at the Chaim Meirim school, which is run by the Visnitz Chasidic group for 230 pupils aged from five to 12.

More..

Czech scrolls anniversary draws worldly crowd

By Simon Rocker, February 17, 2014

They are places where you might not even suspect there would be a Jewish community: Succasunna, New Jersey; Munster, Indiana; Peabody, Massachusetts; Tyler, Texas.

But they all have one thing in common - their synagogues house one of the scrolls from an historic collection of Czech Sifrei Torah salvaged from the Nazis.

More..

The secrets of successful synagogues

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2014

The gap between practice and belief among UK Jews was again demonstrated in the new National Jewish Community Survey carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

More..

Anger over Knesset attack on Reform movement

By Simon Rocker, February 14, 2014

Britain’s Reform movement has urged members to protest to Israel Ambassador Daniel Taub after attacks on Reform within the Knesset.

Likud-Beiteinu’s David Rotem, who chairs the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, apologised on Sunday after referring to Reform as “another religion” last week.

More..

Synagogue offers greater role for women

By Simon Rocker, February 14, 2014

A United Synagogue congregation is to introduce changes to allow women a greater role in the synagogue service.

Members of South Hampstead Synagogue in London learned of the innovations at a meeting on Sunday.

A congregant told the JC that the changes would “push the boundaries a bit”.

More..

Burial company planning to offer cheap Jewish funerals

By Simon Rocker, February 13, 2014

A London company is planning to launch an alternative Jewish burial society which will not require membership of a synagogue.

Normally, people have to pay hundreds of pounds to belong to a synagogue in order to be part of its burial scheme.

More..

Pensioner faces £373,000 bill over property row

By Simon Rocker, February 13, 2014

A British pensioner says she is a facing a huge legal bill as a result of an action brought against her in Germany by the Claims Conference, the international Holocaust restitution body.

More..

Aiming higher on teacher quality

By Simon Rocker, February 13, 2014

Two training schemes for Jewish studies teachers are to launch in the autumn in a bid to raise standards in the profession.

Up to 10 graduates will be recruited annually for a year-long school-based programme backed by a consortium of Jewish secondary schools and run by the education agency, Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS).

The London School of Jewish Studies, meanwhile, is introduci

More..