Simon Rocker

Chief Rabbi candidate attacks 'chic but not kosher' partnership minyans

By Simon Rocker, March 6, 2014

A leading British Orthodox rabbi has dismissed partnership minyans — services where women can read from the Torah and lead some of the prayers — as “a step towards Reform Judaism”.

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Orthodox demand an out-of-hours coroner service to end burial delays

By Simon Rocker, March 6, 2014

Jews and Muslims in North London have launched a joint protest at delays in funerals caused by the lack of an available coroner at weekends.

A petition signed by 4,000 Jews and 1,500 Muslims has been handed into the Chief Coroner’s Office and Camden Council.

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Nuns celebrate return of convent’s megillah

By Simon Rocker, March 6, 2014

An antique megillah restored by a London scribe was returned this week to its owner — a convent of nuns in the West End.

The Tyburn Nuns, who belong to a Benedictine order, received the scroll of Esther as a gift from an American supporter of Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

The heroine of the Megillah, which will be read by Jews at Purim in a few days time, has resonance for the nuns.

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X Factor is a test too far for Orthodox pupils

By Simon Rocker, March 6, 2014

Teachers at Jewish schools have told examiners that they should not assume all children are familiar with social media or with popular television shows such as X Factor.

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US hopes to recruit more shuls from the regions

By Simon Rocker, March 4, 2014

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack wants more regional Orthodox congregations to follow Sheffield and join the London-based organisation.

He revealed this week that discussions had been taking place between the US and a number of congregations across the country over the past year or so.

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Sex abuse arrest at Jewish school

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2014

Police investigating allegations of sexual abuse of pupils at Carmel College, the now closed Jewish public school, have made an arrest, the JC has learned.

Thames Valley Police said that a 76-year-old man from Essex had been arrested and had been released on bail until March 24 this year.

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Israeli rabbi drowns in London mikveh after suffering a heart attack

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2014

No inquest will be held into the death of an Israeli rabbi who collapsed in a mikveh before Shabbat last Friday.

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The rugby rabbi’s conversion

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2014

He could have been the answer to the England rubgy team’s prayers during its testing Six Nations tie against Ireland last weekend.

Instead, Rabbi Yitzchak Greenblatt, a former front-row forward for England at under-16 and under-18 levels, was reciting Shabbat prayers in London.

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Partnership minyans are ‘outside Orthodoxy’

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2014

A leading British Orthodox rabbi has dismissed partnership minyans – services where women can and read from the Torah and lead some of the prayers – as “a step towards Reform Judaism”.

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School must do better

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

The Lubavitch Boys' Primary School in north London has been told that it must do better after its first inspection since becoming state-aided in 2012.

Ofsted, which visited last month, said that the school overall "requires improvement" because the "quality of teaching is not yet good".

Pupils did "not make enough progress in some year groups, particularly in reading and writing", Ofsted rep

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Sheffield joins the US

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

Sheffield's Orthodox congregation has become the first northern community to join the London-based United Synagogue.

US president Stephen Pack hailed "an immensely significant moment" in the history of the US after members of the 250-member community voted for the move by an overwhelming majority on Sunday.

Sheffield president Edward Patnick said: "Our proposed membership of the United Synag

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Hineni: Made in Wales, shown in London

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

There are probably more Welsh-born Jews living in London, Manchester and Israel than remain in the principality. But sometimes the traffic goes the other way.

When Londoner Colin Heyman was offered a job in Cardiff in 1980, he jumped at the chance.

“I’d never been to Cardiff but I loved Wales,” he recalls. He had fallen for the country when walking its hills as a student in Bristol.

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Shuls prepare for same-sex marriages

By Simon Rocker, February 21, 2014

The location of the first same-sex Jewish marriage is still to be revealed five weeks before new legislation permitting gay or lesbian couples to wed comes into force.

Religious groups can apply from March 13 to hold same-sex marriages on their premises, with the first ceremonies in theory able to take place after midnight Saturday March 29.

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Multi-millionaire plans to give books to UK children

By Simon Rocker, February 21, 2014

In the digital age, the People of the Book may be in the process of becoming the People of the iPad.

But for one American Jewish entrepreneur, a book at bedtime is still an irreplaceable experience for children.

Every month, Harold Grinspoon’s PJ Library sends out nearly 350,000 Jewish-themed books free for children aged from six months to eight years in the US, Israel and elsewhere.

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Chief Rabbi’s first official Israel visit

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2014

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is to lead a rabbinical mission to Israel in May in order to put education about Israel “firmly back in the pulpit”.

The expected participation of 50 Orthodox rabbis would make it the largest mission of its kind mounted by a chief rabbi, his office believed.

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Facebook refuses to act over ‘blood libel’

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2014

Facebook has rejected calls to delete a page which promotes the belief that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children.

One British rabbi is so incensed at the continuing presence of the “Jewish Ritual Murder” page he has complained to the police.

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How far will the Chief Rabbi go on women?

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2014

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week spelt out the reasons for his opposition to partnership minyans at the annual conference for United Synagogue rabbis.

Two months ago he announced that PMs – semi-egalitarian Orthodox services where women can read from the Torah – were inappropriate to hold on US premises.

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Czech scrolls anniversary draws worldly crowd

By Simon Rocker, February 17, 2014

They are places where you might not even suspect there would be a Jewish community: Succasunna, New Jersey; Munster, Indiana; Peabody, Massachusetts; Tyler, Texas.

But they all have one thing in common - their synagogues house one of the scrolls from an historic collection of Czech Sifrei Torah salvaged from the Nazis.

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School criticised by Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, February 17, 2014

A Chasidic primary boys' school in Hackney has been criticised by Ofsted for giving pupils an inadequate secular education after an emergency inspection.

An inspector arrived unannounced last month at the Chaim Meirim school, which is run by the Visnitz Chasidic group for 230 pupils aged from five to 12.

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The secrets of successful synagogues

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2014

The gap between practice and belief among UK Jews was again demonstrated in the new National Jewish Community Survey carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

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