Simon Rocker

'We have to solve our problems' says Israeli president Rivlin

By Simon Rocker, April 22, 2015

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said he could not live in a Jewish state if it were not democratic ahead of his first Independence Day as head of state.

In an interview with English-speaking media, he said: “I cannot live in a Jewish state without it being democratic."

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Young reformer in race to be Board vice president

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2015

The co-founder of a lobby group to reform the Board of Deputies is bidding to become the organisation’s youngest officer.

Richard Verber, 30, the campaigns and communications manager of World Jewish Relief, who represents Limmud at the Board, today announced that he is to contest the vice-presidency next month.

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Exclusive: United Synagogue says Laura Marks could be a "divisive" figure if elected Board president

By Simon Rocker, April 20, 2015

The president of the United Synagogue Stephen Pack has warned that the election of Reform representative Laura Marks as the next president of the Board of Deputies could be “divisive”.

Ms Marks, who is senior vice-president of the Board, last week reversed her decision not to stand for the presidency and became the fourth candidate to enter the contest.

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PR man to join chief rabbi's office

By Simon Rocker, April 17, 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.

Mark Frazer, from The PR Office, is one of the three new appointments made to strengthen the team at the Office of the Chief Rabbi.

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Board of Deputies forced to find a new home, again

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

The Board of Deputies will be forced to leave its new headquarters less than a year after its move.

After the sale of the Board’s central London premises in Bloomsbury, the organisation moved into the UJIA’s premises in Camden at the end of the last year.

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Beis Yaakov improving, says Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

A Charedi academy ranked inadequate last year has received encouragement in its efforts to improve.

The state-funded Beis Yaakov High School in Salford was put into special measures after an Ofsted visit seven months ago.

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Ofsted inspectors need to be more consistent

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

In less than a year, no fewer than seven Jewish schools have been rated as inadequate by Ofsted — the lowest of the four inspection grades. All but one of the schools is Charedi and most are independent.

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Tory refuses hustings over security concerns

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

A Conservative Jewish MP in the last Parliament will not attend any hustings held by local faith groups because of "security concerns".

Lee Scott, who is defending a majority of more than 5,000 in his Ilford North constituency in Essex, declined to go into further detail.

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Leaders plan to cohabit

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

The Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, Bicom and UJIA have been discussing a plan to share premises and establish what one source called a "communal hub".

The Board moved into the UJIA's building in Camden Town, north London, at the end of last year after selling its central London base in Bloomsbury.

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Looking for love? Your rabbi can help out

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

Reform Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner wants the movement to set up a matchmaking service to help put Jewish couples together.

Rabbis and cantors are well placed, she believes, to take the role of the traditional shadchan and enable prospective soulmates to meet.

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Exclusive: Laura Marks to stand for Board of Deputies presidency

By Simon Rocker, April 16, 2015

Senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies Laura Marks has sprung a fresh surprise and reversed her decision not to stand for the presidency of the Board next month.

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Orthodox school branded inadequate by inspectors

By Simon Rocker, April 9, 2015

Another strictly Orthodox independent school has been heavily criticised by inspectors after its curriculum was found to be too narrow.

Talmud Torah Tiferes Shlomoh in Golders Green, which teaches 219 boys from three to 15, was ranked inadequate on all counts following a recent Ofsted visit.

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Rabbi 'almost in tears' over asylum-seekers

By Simon Rocker, April 9, 2015

A rabbi said that a visit to a detention centre for asylum-seekers yesterday left him “almost in tears”.

Rabbi Zvi Solomons, of Reading Synagogue, was a part of a joint delegation organised by Tzelem, the rabbinical call for social justice, and Jewish human rights charity Rene Cassin to the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in Middlesex.

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Alyth's Friday Night fever is a crowd-puller

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2015

Some synagogues struggle to muster a Friday night minyan. But not Alyth - the North Western Reform Synagogue in Golders Green - which has doubled attendances over the past year or so.

"We've always had a big Friday night service with 100 to 150 people," said Rabbi Mark Goldsmith.

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Essex man challenges school fine

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2015

An Essex man is trying to take his local council to the European Court for Human Rights after being fined for removing his daughter from school during Shavuot.

Paul Clements, from Romford, whose wife is Jewish, was fined £60 by Havering Council after the family went away to Ibiza for five and a half days in term last spring, which included the two days of the festival of Shavuot.

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Hope inspires British-born peace activist

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2015

Few Israelis know the dangers of Gaza better than Roni Keidar. The former JFS pupil's home lies just a few hundred metres from the border with the Hamas-run territory.

In last summer's conflict, a Qassam rocket from Gaza killed one of the Thai workers on her family's farm. A few days later an exploding mortar damaged their home and destroyed their and their daughter's cars.

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Noah's fine with the vine

By Simon Rocker, April 2, 2015

David Threlfall, who starred as ever-drunk Frank Gallagher in Channel 4's Shameless, found a nobler role on Monday, as Noah in BBC One's biblio-drama, The Ark. But the two characters have one thing in common. Noah was the first man to hit the bottle in the Bible, passing out after enjoying the fruits of his post-flood vineyard a little too much.

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Another primary school downgraded by Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, April 2, 2015

The headteacher and chairman of governors of Clore Shalom primary in Shenley, Hertfordshire, have said they were disappointed after inspectors downgraded it from a good school to one which "requires improvement".

It is the second time within a week that a state-aided Jewish primary has received a critical report following the demotion of Rosh Pinah in Edgware to inadequate.

In a letter to Cl

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Merged JW3/LJCC reveals its opening programme

By Simon Rocker, April 2, 2015

The London Jewish Cultural Centre and JW3 have published their first joint programme since formally merging last month.

Most of the spring events will now take place at JW3's Finchley Road site, although LJCC's premises will remain open until the end of July for a couple of exhibitions and its language courses.

"Everyone is excited about it," said JW3 chairman Michael Goldstein.

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Bicom chief executive Dermot Kehoe to step down

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2015

Dermot Kehoe, the chief executive of Bicom, is to leave in May after three years at the head of the Israel advocacy group.

He is moving to become external affairs director of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the governmental body which collects and analyses data on health and care.

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