Simon Rocker

Doubled-up diplomats

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

British Israel Ambassador Matthew Gould, speaking at a London dinner this week, said that he is often mistaken for his Israeli counterpart in London, Daniel Taub. "I had assumed that this would be happening to him as well," he said. "So I asked him this morning over breakfast, 'I imagine you're mistaken for me?'" Ambassador Taub's response was emphatic. "No."

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Gary Oldman apology 'insufficient'

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League has said that an apology by actor Gary Oldman for remarks about Jewish control of Hollywood was "insufficient".

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The new envoys - an Ethiopian and a Bedouin flying the flag for Israel

By Simon Rocker, June 26, 2014

Eginsu Meyer, her husband Joel and their one-year-old daughter Eliya have been living for a year in Golders Green. About the only thing it has in common with her birthplace - an Ethiopian village called Gayne - is that it begins with "G".

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Rabbi’s Islam peace message to go on sale

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2014

A letter from an Israeli Chief Rabbi arguing that the closeness of Islam to Judaism could help the cause of Middle East peace is to go on sale tomorrow.

It was written by Israel’s first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Isaac Herzog, in 1954 to Professor Abraham Katsh, who had published a book on “Judaism in Islam”,

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Board of Deputies sells HQ for £5.8 million

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2014

The Board of Deputies is set to make a large profit from the sale of its central London headquarters, in Bloomsbury for £5.8 million.

The deal will allow for the Board to remain in the grade two-listed building, the childhood home of Benjamin Disraeli, till early next year.

It is expected to relocate to Camden close to other leading communal organisations such as the UJIA.

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Wanted: undercover chasids

By Simon Rocker, June 22, 2014

A Stamford Hill rabbi called a meeting last week, looking for able-bodied men between the ages of 35 and 50 to embark on a secret nocturnal mission.

According to a report on a Hebrew website, he was concerned about yeshivah boys frequenting casinos and other places of dubious repute instead of being tucked up with their Talmuds.

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Praise for leader who transformed Lubavitch

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Few Jews today would not have heard of Lubavitch, but when Rabbi Nachman Sudak came to the UK in 1959, its name would have drawn a blank for most. He was one of the early disciples of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, who transformed Chabad from simply one Chasidic sect among many to an international outreach Jewish movement.

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Miliband warms the hearts of the Labour Friends

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Opposition leader Ed Miliband received a standing ovation at the Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch on Tuesday after his most personal declaration of pride in his Jewishness since his election to the role four years ago.

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Gefiltefest once again cooks up an appetising foodies' menu

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Israeli food writer Gil Hovav was on hot form. His first session at Sunday's Gefiltefest, the foodie equivalent of Limmud, was on how to make zchug, the fiery Yemeni salsa.

Generous bunches of coriander lay on the table along with heads of garlic, bags of green chilli and assorted spices, alongside hand-held blenders.

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Pack stays US leader

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack is set for a second three-year term of office after being unopposed in next month's election.

Mr Pack, 64, a member of Hadley Wood Synagogue, said the US had "a new chief rabbi, a new chief executive and we're going to have a new strategic plan.

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Hendon school forced to end priority admissions

By Simon Rocker, June 19, 2014

Another Jewish primary school has been forced to change its entry rules after being told it can no longer give priority for reception class places to children in its nursery.

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UK Lubavitch head Rabbi Nachman Sudak dies

By Simon Rocker, June 16, 2014

Rabbi Nachman Sudak, the man who built Lubavitch in the UK, has died aged 78.

Since his arrival here in 1959 as the personal emissary of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, he dedicated his life to implementing the movement’s unique outreach ethos.

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Women stand by to stand

By Simon Rocker, June 12, 2014

The first elections for women trustees of the United Synagogue look set to be contested next month.

At least five women have indicated that they are planning to stand for the four positions available on its executive before nominations close on Monday.

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Are Charedi schools extremist?

By Simon Rocker, June 12, 2014

After the government's inquiry into alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools, Jewish educators will be keeping a close watch on what Ofsted does next. Will the inspection service seek to counter religious sectarianism more widely?

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Passenger beats easyJet in court

By Simon Rocker, June 12, 2014

A businessman has won a legal victory over easyJet after challenging its cancellation fee for a flight to Israel.

Adam Rubens, of Bushey, Hertfordshire, said it was not the £58 plus £50 costs awarded to him in Watford County Court that mattered but the principle.

Mr Rubens, a member of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, booked a return flight to Tel Aviv with the budget airline last Decemb

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New chief executive for United Synagogue

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2014

A former JFS pupil with a PhD in chemistry is to be the next chief executive of Britain’s largest synagogue body, the United Synagogue.

Dr Steven Wilson, who is the executive director of the International Council of Science, will take up the position after Rosh Hashanah in September.

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Praise for Lubavitch primary

By Simon Rocker, June 9, 2014

The Lubavitch Boys’ Primary School in Stamford Hill has been praised for its Jewish studies, including its use of information technology in the subject.

Pikuach, the Jewish inspection service overseen by the Board of the Deputies, gave the state-aided school a “good” rating for its religious teaching.

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Brent Cross will stage mass challah-baking

By Simon Rocker, June 9, 2014

For one day later this year, Brent Cross shopping centre will become the country’s largest Jewish bakery.

It will be the venue for a mass challah-making event to prepare for Shabbat UK, the national celebration launched by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

The aim is to encourage as many Jews as possible to observe the day of rest over October 24 and 25.

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Rabbi to target the 'missing generation'

By Simon Rocker, June 9, 2014

The Reform movement has created a new rabbinical post to spearhead its work with young adults — the so-called “missing generation”.

Rabbi Benji Stanley, 31, who has been at West London Synagogue since his ordination at Leo Baeck College last summer, will take on the role from September.

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It's shwarmaggedon as Solly's closes down

By Simon Rocker, June 6, 2014

The Mediterranean might have been far away and the double-decker buses cruising past the awnings would have reminded you that you were not in Israel. But for 24 years Solly's brought a taste of Tel Aviv to Golders Green.

Now the shwarma towers have turned for the last time as one of London's first kosher Israeli restaurants closed this week, prompting laments from loyal customers.

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