Simon Rocker

Capital home from home attracts the marrying kind

By Simon Rocker, February 13, 2014

Set up as a club for young Jews to meet, there is one statistic of which the Centre for Jewish Life is particularly proud.

Around 80 couples who have gone, or plan to go under the chupah, first met at its elegant premises in London's West End.

Originally a Lubavitch venture but independent for the past five years, it has been especially successful in attracting many of the young Jews who hav

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Casting a bionic eye on innovation

By Simon Rocker, February 13, 2014

To the uninitiated, nanoscience might sound as if it were something to do with the study of grandmothers.

But this rapidly developing field is about the investigation of tiny particles, thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair.

For scientists, its technical application opens up all sorts of possibilities, from the more effective use of solar energy to an artificial nose that

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American award for Lord Sacks

By Simon Rocker, February 7, 2014

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has been honoured in the United States for his defence of religious liberty.

He has been awarded the Canterbury Medal by religious liberty law firm The Becket Fund.

Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University said that Rabbi Sacks was “not only a distinguished leader of the Jewish community, he is a teacher of mankind.

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Mystery over fate of Bury Torah

By Simon Rocker, February 7, 2014

A Manchester synagogue is still to explain what it has done with a historic Sefer Torah that was loaned to it nearly 50 years ago.

The Czech Scrolls Memorial Trust contacted Bury Hebrew Congregation last summer to ask for its return.

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'Jews brought Holocaust on themselves' rabbi visits UK

By Simon Rocker, February 6, 2014

A controversial preacher who believes that Down’s Syndrome and autism are the consequences of sins committed in a previous life made his first speaking tour of Britain this week, despite protests about his visit.

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Opening doors to women

By Simon Rocker, February 1, 2014

The role of women in the synagogue has become one of the most challenging issues facing the Orthodox rabbinate. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis may have ruled out the possibility of partnership minyans — where women read from the Torah and can lead some of the prayers — within his domain for the time being.

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Archbishop of Canterbury joins rabbis in talks on Israel and antisemitism

By Simon Rocker, January 31, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has held his first meeting with his fellow leaders of the Council of Christians and Jews since taking office last year.

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Shoah teacher’s Unesco role

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

The founder of Britain’s first Holocaust museum has a new international role to promote awareness of genocide.

Stephen Smith, who opened the Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire, has become Unesco’s first chairman of genocide education.

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Leading Federation rabbi dies

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

One of the UK's most respected rabbis, Dayan Gershon Lopian, of the Federation of Synagogues, has died today, aged 73.

Historian of British Jewry Geoffrey Alderman said that he was “one of the leading halachists in this country, who was significant in raising and ensuring the Federation’s credentials internationally.

“He was a great preacher and very approachable.”

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Survey: Ageing but sprightly

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

Despite the boom in Orthodox births, the Jewish population is ageing.

Over half of all those aged 65 per cent report some limitation or discomfort because of health — although that remains a minority for those under 80.

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Survey: A strong giving impulse

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

The charitable instinct remains strong among British Jews with 93 per cent having made a donation over the previous year.

But 45 per cent gave priority to non-Jewish charities, compared with 37 who gave more to Jewish charities.

A quarter of contributors gave only to non-Jewish charities, while eight per cent restricted their donations to Jewish causes.

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Survey: Demand for schools has peaked

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

Jewish schools may have dramatically increased in number and intake, with almost 30,000 pupils now compared to 12,500 in the 70s.

But their popularity may have begun to peak, at least among the broader middle-of-the-road or non-Orthodox public, the survey suggests.

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Survey: Rate of marrying out is slowing

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

One in four of all Jews in a relationship has a non-Jewish partner but the rate of intermarriage has slowed.

Overall, 23 per cent of married couples are mixed faith and 61 per cent of cohabiting Jews have a non-Jewish partner.

While fewer than one in five of Jews who married in the 1970s had a non-Jewish spouse (18 per cent), a quarter of Jews marrying since 2000 did so.

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Survey: Under-40s emerge as frummest group

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

One of the most striking findings of the entire survey is that younger Jews below 40 are more religiously observant than their parents and grandparents’ generation.

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Survey: God and Israel lose out in our list of priorities

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

The identity of UK Jews rests more on ethical values and ethnic solidarity than belief in God or studying Torah

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Survey: Mainstream is on the retreat

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

The survey reveals striking evidence of the religiously squeezed middle.

While the traditional camp that typified the middle-of-the-road United Synagogue member has shrunk, there has been a significant rise in the numbers of Jews who identify as cultural or secular.

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Largest ever survey reveals decline of Jewish mainstream

By Simon Rocker, January 30, 2014

Younger Jews are more religious than their parents’ generation, intermarriage has slowed down and the mainstream Orthodoxy that once typified British Jewry is in retreat.

These are some of the major findings of the most comprehensive survey ever carried out on the Jewish population of the UK which were released yesterday.

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Mirvis is praised on his century

By Simon Rocker, January 27, 2014

United Synagogue president Steven Pack has complimented Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on an “amazing job” in his first 100 days of office.

In an article posted in the US’s online magazine, You and US, Mr Pack gave Rabbi Mirvis “10 out of 10”, saying he had “certainly delivered his objectives” in the opening months of his chief rabbinate.

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Ofsted checks on 'missing' schools

By Simon Rocker, January 27, 2014

Hackney Council believes there could be as many as 20 local yeshivot where children are being taught without the necessary state registration.

Under the law, children must be taught in a recognised institution until they are 16, even if it is independent.
But more than 1,000 strictly Orthodox boys from the age of 13 are still thought to be “missing” from the registered system in London.

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Successor to Mirvis at Kinloss

By Simon Rocker, January 27, 2014

Finchley Synagogue congregants have overwhelmingly endorsed the appointment of Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence — currently with the Sydney Great Synagogue — as the successor to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as its senior minister.

Rabbi Lawrence, his wife Mandy and two of their four children had spent Shabbat with the Finchley community prior to the vote.

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