Simon Rocker

Board of Deputies approves Yachad membership

By Simon Rocker, November 16, 2014

The Board of Deputies has approved the membership of Yachad, the campaign group which lobbies for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such was the controversy surrounding the application that a decision had twice been previously postponed.

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US chief mulled move to block Yachad at Board

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2014

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack considered warning members of the Board of Deputies to vote against the admission of the campaign group Yachad, over its "unacceptable activities", it has been revealed.

In an email seen by the JC, Mr Pack said he had been pressed to write to representatives of US congregations on the Board to oppose Yachad's application.

But he told the JC on Wednesda

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Russian philanthropists bound for London

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2014

A delegation of leading Russian Jewish philanthropists is to visit London this weekend to discuss business and charity-giving with representatives of British Jewry.

Mikhail Mirilashvili, God Nisanov, German Khan and Mikhal Fridman were due to arrive on Thursday night with their families to spend Shabbat here.

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Activists scoop awards

By Simon Rocker, November 13, 2014

The UK branch of the New Israel Fund enjoyed a record year in 2013, raising 29 per cent more than it did in 2012.

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West London's same-sex ties

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

West London Synagogue is expecting to hold its first same-sex wedding within the actual synagogue next month, with one of its rabbis among the celebrating couples.

Previously, a civil same-sex marriage was held in the Reform shul's hall, while another couple had a religious wedding in an outside venue conducted under the synagogue's auspices.

Simon Myers, WLS executive director, said, "We ca

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Golders Green service raises the stakes

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

An Orthodox partnership minyan - where women can read from the Torah and lead certain parts of the service - has begun in a third location in London.

Around 100 men, women and children attended the Golders Green partnership minyan, which took place at the Jewish Vegetarian Society last Shabbat morning.

It follows the establishment of similar ventures in Elstree a year ago and in Hampstead.

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Despite opposition, this is a trend that's not going away

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

It is less than a year-and-a-half since the UK's first openly advertised a partnership minyan, where Orthodox women could enjoy a public role in the prayer service.

Before then, such gatherings were virtually underground activities, below the rabbinic radar.

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Limmud date for hijack plot refusenik

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

One of the most famous Prisoners of Zion who defied the Soviet regime to be allowed to go to Israel is to speak at the Limmud education conference next month.

Yosef Mendelevich, now a rabbi, will share a platform with another refusenik, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who will be returning after his conference debut in 2013.

Rabbi Mendelevich was jailed for his part in a plot to hija

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Boards face questions over exam remarks

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

When Aron Jacobs, 16, a pupil at JFS, received his GCSE results this summer, he was not entirely satisfied. He decided to challenge the grades he received in two subjects, English language and geography.

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Hackney girls' school criticised by inspectors

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

Inspectors have said that a strictly Orthodox girls school in Hackney should not be allowed to expand because of weaknesses in its welfare, health and safety arrangements and problems with its premises.

Bnois Jerusalem in Stamford Hill, North London, which has 780 girls on its roll from 3 to 16, applied last year to the education authorities for permission to expand to 850.

The school alread

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Federation to open cemetery in NW London

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

The Federation of Synagogues has achieved a long-standing aim by purchasing land to open a cemetery in north-west London.

An 11-acre site has been acquired in Edgwarebury Lane, south of existing Jewish cemeteries serving other communities.

Federation president Andrew Cohen said it was "right in the middle of where we want to be in a major catchment area.

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Poles knight Auschwitz rabbi

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

A rabbi who has led more than 150 study missions to Auschwitz has received a Polish knighthood for his services to Holocaust education and dialogue between Jews and Poles.

Rabbi Barry Marcus was presented with the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit by the Polish Ambassador, Witold Sobkow, in London.

Since taking his first group nearly 20 years ago, he has accompanied more than 25,000 stude

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Well suited to science

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2014

The cutting edge of Israeli science was shared with a select band of London diners by the Friends of Bar Ilan University last week.

Professor Ido Bachelet outlined research being done in the university's faculty of life sciences which, he said, "could revolutionise everything we know as medicine".

His team is developing tiny robots which could be injected into a patient to destroy cancer cel

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Breaking glass and breaking new ground

By Simon Rocker, October 31, 2014

For 15 years Natalie Grazin and Samantha Cohen have been stalwarts of the New North London Synagogue, the country's largest Masorti congregation.

They helped to found the egalitarian minyan Assif. They have a boy and a girl who attend Jewish primary school.

The couple, who met at Limmud in 1997, formally pledged their commitment to each other in 2005 in a brit ahavah, a covenant of love.

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Review: How I Stopped Being A Jew

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014


By Shlomo Sand


Verso, £9.99

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Yachad backed in Board bid

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

More than 70 former leaders of Jewish youth groups, students and Limmud have signed a letter backing Yachad's application to join the Board of Deputies.

The Board has twice postponed a decision on the bid from the liberal Zionist organisation which campaigns for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but is expected to vote on it next month.

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Ofsted raps 'narrow' Orthodox school

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

A state-aided strictly Orthodox girls school in Salford has been put into special measures after inspectors criticised its narrow curriculum and other failings.

The Beis Yaakov High School, an academy which teaches 258 girls from 11 to 16, was judged "inadequate" - the lowest of the four inspection grades - following an unannounced visit from Ofsted last month.

Rabbi Yochonon Goldlbatt, the

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Humanists probe Charedi education

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

A former Charedi school pupil has told a group of MPs and peers investigating fundamentalism that he received just half an hour of secular tuition a day.

The ex-student, who went to an independent strictly Orthodox school in Stamford Hill, London, briefed a closed session of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) last week.

He spoke of "the difficulty in leaving the community, as

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We're all thriving in these baking conditions

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2014

More than 3,000 women - and a few men - gave an extraordinary start to the Chief Rabbi's Shabbat UK by participating in the world's largest challah-make.

The response was so great that there were nearly 800 on the waiting list for the date with the dough at Allianz Park in north London, home of Saracens Rugby Club.

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Jews for Jesus relocates to heart of London Jewish community

By Simon Rocker, October 29, 2014

The missionary group Jews for Jesus is moving its London office to Hendon, into the heart of one of the most populated Jewish areas.

It has taken a shop opposite the tube station, which lies close to the local branch of Aish, the Jewish young adults’ organisation.

Jews for Jesus UK director Julia Pascoe said that while an opening date had not yet been set, it would be “by Chanucah”.

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