Simon Rocker

Should faith schools be able to drop evolution?

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2014

The children and their adult escorts have gathered beneath the long bony neck of Dippy the diplodocus, the giant replica skeleton which stands in the lobby of the Natural History Museum. Sunday morning cheder for these pupils from Belsize Square Synagogue is not going to be in class.

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Liberals heed conference calls for progression

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2014

Some people believe religion and politics should not mix. But Rabbi Jonah Pesner, senior-president of the Union of Reform Judaism in North America, is not among them.

His keynote speech to Liberal Judaism's biennial conference at the weekend was a stirring call to action. "To be a Progressive Jew is to put a stake in the ground for a political vision of a just society," he declared.

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King Solomon appoints acting head teacher

By Simon Rocker, May 16, 2014

King Solomon High School in Redbridge has appointed an acting head to take over the reins following the suspension of head teacher Jo Shuter.

Redbridge Council said that Dr Paul Doherty, head of Trinity School in Woodford, would act as head of King Solomon from Monday.

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Single life may be key to Nottingham’s survival

By Simon Rocker, May 15, 2014

The example of Oxford, where Orthodox and non-Orthodox groups share a single building, is being floated as the way ahead for a second regional community.

A proposal for a single Jewish centre to house Nottingham’s Orthodox and Liberal congregations has been aired at meetings in both synagogues over the past week.

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King Solomon headteacher Jo Shuter banned from teaching

By Simon Rocker, May 15, 2014

The head of King Solomon High School, Jo Shuter, has been banned from teaching for abusing expenses while at her previous school.

One of the most country’s most high-profile teachers, who was awarded the CBE four years ago, she admitted allegations of inappropriate claims during her headship of London’s Quintin Kynaston Community Academy before a teaching disciplinary panel in April.

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New chief for Council of Christians and Jews

By Simon Rocker, May 15, 2014

The founder of an Israel-Palestine dialogue charity is to become the new director of the Council of Christian and Jews.

Dr Jane Clements, who is the director of the Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine, will succeed the The Reverend David Gifford as head of the interfaith charity in July.

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King Solomon head Jo Shuter banned from teaching

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2014

The headteacher of King Solomon High School in Redbridge, Jo Shuter, has been banned from teaching after abusing expenses in a previous role.

Ms Shuter admitted a number of allegations of inappropriate claims, including £7,000 for a 50th birthday party, while head of the Quintin Kynaston Community Academy in London before a teaching standards panel last month.

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JLC enlists Reform man

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2014

The Jewish Leadership Council has moved quickly to address concerns at the lack of a senior Progressive figure at its top table.

Reform movement chairman Robert Weiner was not among the 12 trustees elected or co-opted by the council last week.

But he has now been invited to attend meetings of the trustee board following dissatisfaction from the Reform and Liberal movements.

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King Solomon head awaits fate after expenses misconduct

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2014

King Solomon High School head teacher Jo Shuter must await her fate after being found guilty of professional misconduct over expense claims while in a previous job.

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Nottingham rabbi resists US affiliation

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2014

A regional rabbi has offered to take a pay cut rather than let his congregation join the United Synagogue to secure its future.

Rabbi Moshe Perez, who has served the Nottingham Hebrew Congregation for around 25 years, is leading the opposition to moves to affiliate to the London-based synagogue body.

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Board of Deputies new chief executive revealed

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2014

EXCLUSIVE

The Board of Deputies has appointed former Labour minister Gillian Merron as its new chief executive.

Ms Merron, 55, who served as the MP for Lincoln for 13 years until she lost her seat in the 2010 election, joined the board of Liberal Judaism two years ago and was appointed a vice-president of the Jewish Leadership Council last year.

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Holy smokers - Chasidim and Tobacco

By Simon Rocker, May 4, 2014

One of the complaints made against the Chasidim by their opponents, the Mitnagdim, was that they smoked too much. The movement’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov, reputedly puffed on a lulke, a long pipe, to help his spiritual ruminations. Others made use of “incense of the nose” — snuff.

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Israeli embassy attacks Methodist report

By Simon Rocker, May 2, 2014

The Israeli embassy has attacked a briefing paper produced by the Methodist Church on the case for and against boycotting Israel.

The document, which makes no recommendations either way, is set to go to the church’s policy-making conference in Birmingham next month.

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Board of Deputies treasurer ‘shocked’ by visit to West Bank

By Simon Rocker, May 2, 2014

Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass has said he was horrified at what he witnessed during a visit to a West Bank village, describing it as an “eye-opener”.

Mr Brass, who was spending Pesach in Israel, took part in a private capacity in a one-day trip organised by Yachad UK and led by a guide from the anti-occupation Israeli army veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence.

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Senior Board officer to stand for Labour Party

By Simon Rocker, May 1, 2014

The Board of Deputies’ director of public affairs, Phil Rosenberg, is entering the political arena as a Labour candidate in this month’s local elections.

He will be fighting for a seat in the Liberal Democrat-held West Hampstead ward in the London borough of Camden.

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Masorti signs up to pay Living Wage to workers

By Simon Rocker, April 28, 2014

Masorti Judaism has become a Living Wage employer, following the lead of Liberal Judaism which was the first synagogue movement to sign up to the campaign at the end of last year.
Masorti marked its accreditation from Citizens UK's Living Wage Foundation at a Jewish study session at the movement's offices last Thursday.

Under the scheme, employers undertake to pay a minimum of £7.65 an hour n

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When being Jewish becomes too expensive

By Simon Rocker, April 27, 2014

Not for nothing is matzah called the bread of poverty: because when you tot up your Pesach bills afterwards, they are likely to have made a deep hole in your pocket. The ritual outcry against Passover prices came this year with disturbing reports of a growing numbers of people having had to rely on charity to help them celebrate it.

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David Baddiel’s Infidel gets ready to sing

By Simon Rocker, April 25, 2014

A musical of David Baddiel’s 2010 film about Muslims and Jews, The Infidel, which starred comedian Omid Djalili, looks set for a stage run after the success of an online fundraising campaign.

An appeal on the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter this month reached the £55,000 target needed to subsidise performances at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London later this year.

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Judge ends battle of tycoons

By Simon Rocker, April 24, 2014

Russian-Israeli businessman Arkady Gaydamak has lost a fresh claim in the British courts against tycoon Lev Leviev over a Angolan diamond deal worth more than a billion pounds.
High Court judge Mr Justice Mann granted an application from Mr Leviev, who is also of Russian-Israeli background, to strike out the case nearly two years after a previous court judgment.

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Methodists' boycott report criticised

By Simon Rocker, April 24, 2014

A briefing paper on the pros and cons of boycotting Israel published by the Methodist Church today has been criticised by the Israeli Embassy and the Board of Deputies.

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