Simon Rocker

Worry over Ofsted plan to inspect faith schools

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

Government plans to register and inspect part-time schools and educational institutions are "a sledgehammer to crack a nut", an organisation representing Orthodox Jewish schools has warned.

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US launches women’s guide to saying Kaddish

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

The United Synagogue has responded to longstanding calls to do more for women mourners by publishing a booklet to help them say Kaddish.

The eight-page guide, produced at the instigation of the co-chair of US Women Jacqui Zinkin, is intended to make it easier for women to recite the mourning prayer in synagogue.

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Why the JLC own goal was so easy to avoid

By Simon Rocker, January 25, 2016

The Jewish Leadership Council's commission on women in Jewish leadership was a concerted effort to break the male stranglehold on communal organisations.

Since the commission reported four years ago, the JLC has tried to encourage progress. The 16 participants on its Gamechangers scheme to groom future leaders was equally divided between men and women.

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Antisemitic views ignored by Euro-leaders, Israeli report claims

By Simon Rocker, January 24, 2016

European Union leaders are systematically ignoring antisemitic views held by their citizens, a new report presented to the Israeli government today warns.

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Merkel; antisemitism more 'widespread' than thought

By Simon Rocker, January 24, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged strong action against antisemitism, stating that it is more widespread than imagined.

In her weekly podcast yesterday, she said that "antisemitism is more pervasive than we imagine and that we must act intensively against it," according to Israeli media.

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Ukrainian oligarchs call off London court case

By Simon Rocker, January 23, 2016

A High Court showdown in London involving three Ukrainian Jewish businessmen is understood to have been averted at the last minute.

Victor Pinchuk’s case against Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoisky had been due to begin on Monday and scheduled to last for eight weeks.

But the disputing parties have reached an out-of-court settlement, according to sources close to the parties.

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Ofsted and a question of stoning

By Simon Rocker, January 21, 2016

The government’s attempt to nip extremism in the bud is having an increasing knock-on effect on strictly Orthodox Jewish schools.

Its “British values” agenda is intended to promote respect and tolerance for other cultures and faiths among children – in contrast to sectarian ideologies seen as a stepping-stone to militancy.

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Board warning over peer’s Bill to control religious courts

By Simon Rocker, January 19, 2016

The House of Lords has given further support to a private members bill to regulate religious tribunals which the Board of Deputies warns could hit Batei Din.

Cross-bencher Baroness Cox wants to force religious courts which arbitrate disputes to comply with equality law.

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Strictly Orthodox school in Stamford Hill ordered to close in government crackdown

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2016

An unregistered strictly Orthodox primary school has been ordered to close by the Department for Education in a further sign of a crackdown by the authorities on religious institutions operating outside the law.

Talmud Torah Tashbar in Stamford Hill, Hackney, has been told to shut down in a month.

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Lord Sacks wins top America book prize

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2016

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has won a top American Jewish book prize for the third year running.

His exploration of the origins of religious violence Not In God’s Name, which was published last year, won a National Jewish Book Award in the category of modern Jewish prize.

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Orthodox schools' anger over government inspection plan

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2016

Government plans to register and inspect part-time schools and educational institutions are “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”, an organisation representing Orthodox Jewish schools has warned.

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Tax threat to Jewish schools

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2016

Talks are going on with the tax authorities to prevent a change in policy which could cost Jewish schools tens of thousands of pounds a year.

For many years, state-aided schools have been able to claim as tax relief on contributions made by parents towards the cost of Jewish studies and security.

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British aliyah up 25% in a rise steeper than in terror-struck France

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2016

The number of UK Jews who emigrated to Israel in 2015 rose by almost 25 per cent on the previous year, making it the third highest aliyah figure in a decade.

According to the Jewish Agency, 774 Jews left Britain for Israel last year, up from 627 in 2014. The figures are preliminary and could be revised upwards.

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Immanuel head boy releases single with historic recording studio

By Simon Rocker, January 13, 2016

When Immanuel College head boy Bertie Green is not studying for his A-levels in history, economics and English, his alter ego is most likely to be practising guitar or rehearsing in the studio.

As songwriter Ben Izak, he is set to release his debut single, Wildest Dreams, on Monday.

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Charity claims unregistered Orthodox schools are using corporal punishment

By Simon Rocker, January 12, 2016

Former members of the Charedi community have told the government that some unregistered Orthodox schools and yeshivot are using corporal punishment on their pupils.

The GesherEU Support Network, a charity set up to help people leave the strictly Orthodox community, called for tighter control over such institutions in a submission to a Department for Education consultation.

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Teaching at ‘driving ban’ school criticised by Ofsted

By Simon Rocker, January 12, 2016

A second Chasidic school involved in last year’s controversy over women driving has received a critical report from inspectors.

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Aliyah from the UK up by almost 25 per cent

By Simon Rocker, January 12, 2016

Aliyah from Britain in 2015 rose by almost a quarter from the previous year, according to preliminary figures from the Jewish Agency.

The number of British Jews who made their home in Israel climbed from 629 in 2014 to 774 last year at the latest count.

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Our children should know about Christianity, too

By Simon Rocker, January 7, 2016

In autumn a number of Jewish schools will begin teaching Islam as part of the new curriculum for GCSE religious studies.

It was a move they were forced to make in order to comply with the government's requirement that from 2016 at least a quarter of the GCSE course should be allocated to a second religion.

Although Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis originally opposed the change - arguing that in a

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Israel supporters tell Ayatalloh, Jews living in the Holy Land is will of Allah

By Simon Rocker, January 7, 2016

A group of pro-Israel activists has written to the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatalloh Khamenei asking him to recognise that the Quran upholds the right of the Jewish people to the Holy Land.

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West End Great quits home after 'excessive' rise

By Simon Rocker, January 7, 2016

The independent West End Great community is to leave Western Marble Arch Synagogue at the end of February after being asked to pay substantially more to remain.

West End Great has held services there for around 20 years after selling its own premises in Soho.

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