Simon Rocker

Scents of play

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2016

American composer Scott Frankel will be hoping for more than cosmetic success with his new musical War Paint which premieres in Chicago at the end of this month. Its theme is the fierce competition between perfume entrepreneurs Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.

More..

Bier bonding

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2016

Could James Bond be passing from one Jewish director to another? Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, whose credits include recent BBC blockbuster series The Night Manager, has been tipped as a possible successor to Sam Mendes for the next 007 film.

More..

High five for Ronson and Glynne

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2016

Mark Ronson's Uptown Funk was the most played pop track in the UK last year, according to the annual PPL People's Charts. A second Jewish performer, Jess Glynne, earned the number five slot with her song Hold My Hand.

The charts are based on airplay including in such places as pubs and restaurants as well as on radio, according to PPL, which licenses music for broadcast and public performances.

More..

The world-cup winning prayer

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2016

England's World Cup soccer success in 1966 could have been down to a secret visit to a synagogue – or so we can dream.

In the recent BBC documentary Alfie's Boys, a member of the team, George Cohen, recalled seeing his colleague Nobby Stiles nip out of the Hendon hotel where they were based on the day of the final.

When Stiles was asked where he was going, he replied that he was off to "a

More..

Worries over rule to teach Christianity

By Simon Rocker, June 2, 2016

Jewish students could be "disadvantaged" by a new requirement to show knowledge of Christianity for GCSE religious studies, the Department for Education has been told.

They will have to demonstrate it even if they study Islam as a second religion after Judaism.

More..

Strong as Death is Love

By Simon Rocker, June 1, 2016

Strong as Death is Love

Robert Alter
Norton, £10.99

Probably the only thing most of us know about Daniel was that he was thrown into a lion's den and lived to tell the tale. For the ordinary Jew in the pew, the book in which this episode appears must be one of the most unread in the Bible.

More..

Lubavitch girls earn plaudits from Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, June 1, 2016

Although strictly Orthodox schools have had a tough time with Ofsted over the two years, some are still proving able to make the grade.

The state-aided Lubavitch Senior Girls' School in Hackney, north London, which was rated as "requiring improvement" in 2013, has now been officially classified as a good school.

Its headteacher had worked with determination to tackle weaknesses, senior lead

More..

Leave or remain — youth have their say on Europe

By Simon Rocker, June 1, 2016

They may be too young to vote in next month's Brexit referendum but a group from Noam Primary School in London were closely following the arguments for and against Britain staying in the European Union last week.

They were among more than 100 children aged from eight to 13 from across the country who took part in a debate staged by First News, the newspaper for youth, at Speaker's House in West

More..

Sir Terence Etherton named as new Master of the Rolls

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2016

Sir Terence Etherton has been appointed Master of the Rolls, the second most senior judge in England and Wales.

He is the third Jewish holder of the office in a row, succeeding Lord Dyson, who retires in October, and Lord Neuberger.

More..

Warning on school places squeeze

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2016

The number of children graduating from Jewish primary schools in London is set to rise by more than a quarter in just six years, adding to the squeeze on places at the community's secondary schools.

The educational agency Partnerships for Jewish Schools (Pajes) has predicted a shortfall of 135 places at Jewish secondary schools in north-west London in 2022.

More..

Hunt is on for new leaders as JFS head quits

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2016

The resignation of Jonathan Miller as headteacher of JFS, the country's largest Jewish school, has ended weeks of uncertainty after his unexplained absence since the start of term.

Mr Miller, who has led the London secondary school since 2008, wanted to "explore other professional opportunities", parents were told this week in a letter from the chairman of governors Steven Woolf.

More..

Pressure was on after critical Ofsted report

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2016

The Ofsted squad which turned up at the JFS campus in Kenton, north-west London one morning in July 2014 took the school by surprise. Ranked as an outstanding school and enjoying an excellent academic reputation, JFS had not expected to be the subject of an unannounced inspection.

More..

The pros and cons of opening a new London Jewish high school

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2016

What is the case for a new Jewish secondary school in north-west London?

Latest predictions suggest that in six years there will be around 135 more children from Jewish primary schools in London applying to Jewish secondaries than there are now. Almost enough to fill the 150 places a year which would be available at a new high school.

More..

Lesson about Palestinians should not be 'taboo'

By Simon Rocker, May 26, 2016

Talking about the Palestinians to pupils at Jewish schools "cannot be taboo", according to a specialist on teaching children about Israel.

Dr Sivan Zakai, of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, has found that young Jewish schoolchildren in the city are unaware of the Palestinians, instead believing Israel to be in conflict with some "unclear other team".

More..

Holiday ruling gives teachers a headache

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2016

Headteachers have been left in a vacuum after a legal ruling which has given parents more freedom to take their children on holiday during term.

The High Court last week supported a father who had refused to pay a £120 fine for removing his daughter from school for a trip abroad.

More..

School admissions points system set for review

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2016

The points system which is used for entry to many Jewish schools is to be reviewed.

The Chief Rabbi has set up an investigation to look at the requirements for a "Certificate of Religious Practice" and question whether the present criteria are correct.

More..

Rethink on academies may prove a blessing in disguise

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2016

The twists and turns of education policy can be hard to follow. While there may seem to be no specific Jewish interest in the government's climbdown over academies, it could have a hidden benefit.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, although still wanting state schools to switch from local authority control to academy status, has dropped the demand for "blanket conversion".

More..

Ofsted head's concern over children 'hidden away' in unregistered schools

By Simon Rocker, May 16, 2016

The head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw said that he was “extremely concerned” at the number of unregistered schools after more than 100 have so far been identified by inspectors.

More..



Was the Chief Rabbi right on Zionism?

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2016

The Chief Rabbi made his strongest public statement since coming into office two and a half years ago when he intervened in the Labour antisemitism controversy, warning that the party had a “severe problem”.

More..

Property firm blocked from developing listed synagogue

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2016

A judge has blocked plans to develop the synagogoue of the defunct Blackpool United Hebrew Congregation because it would affect the character of the Grade II-listed building.

Thompson Property Investments had applied to build flats at the back of the 100-year-old building, which was deconsecrated in 2012 and sold.

The plan had originally been rejected by the council after objections from His

More..