Simon Rocker



'Reform scumbags'

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2016

The plan to establish a new egalitarian section at the Kotel in Jerusalem was meant to solve a long-running dispute. But the compromise has now precipitated an ugly round of religious polemics as the Charedi political establishment tries to defend the state against the encroachment of the non-Orthodox.

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Charities face a donor challenge

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2016

Sir Mick Davis, Jewish Leadership Council chairman, dug ever deeper into his pockets last year. The foundation he set up with his wife Barbara dished out £2.2 million, compared with £1.4m the previous year, supporting a variety of causes from Jewish youth to horticulutural studies.

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New free school plans underway

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2016

Supporters of a new Jewish secondary school in north-west London have launched a series of meetings for prospective parents in a bid to win wider backing for the plan.

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Shul and rabbi settle claim of unfair dismissal

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2016

Reading Hebrew Congregation has reached a settlement with its former rabbi and his wife midway through an employment tribunal.

Rabbi Zvi and Dr Shira Solomons had sued for unfair dismissal following their redundancy last May after seven years with the small Orthodox community.

But on the second day of a scheduled three-day hearing in Reading on Wednesday, the parties came to a confidential a

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Review: The Wed-Locked Agunot

By Simon Rocker, March 23, 2016

Susan Aranoff and Rivka Haut
McFarland, £45.50

This is a book best avoided on Shabbat because its contents would disturb anyone's rest. It is the most shocking book I can recall on Judaism in many years.

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Arkush criticised for comments about trust

By Simon Rocker, March 23, 2016

The president of the Board of Deputies Jonathan Arkush has been criticised by Jewish Labour activists for saying that most Jews cannot trust the party.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard Mr Arkush said that the relationship between the Jewish community and the party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership had been under "deep strain".

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Why the Purim story is one for the ages

By Simon Rocker, March 23, 2016

Purim is the joker in the pack of Jewish festivals. It is the closest we get to carnival, with the fancy dress, the mayhem of the megillah reading, the alcohol – it’s a mitzvah to get tipsy if not paralytic – and the Purim spiels.

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188 Jewish charities raise more than £1 million each every year, research shows

By Simon Rocker, March 22, 2016

Close to 200 British Jewish charities raise more than £1 million a year, according to a forthcoming report by the consultancy New Philanthropy Capital.

It puts the overall annual income for the 2,264 registered Jewish charities at £997,733, 722 (although this includesf transfers between charities). Their average income is £440,695 a year.

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Over 90 per cent of UK Jews give to charity, with Orthodox and over-60s most generous, report finds

By Simon Rocker, March 22, 2016

Religious Jews are more likely to give to charity than secular Jews according to the most comprehensive report on the community’s philanthropic habits in nearly 20 years.

Most British Jews contribute both to Jewish and general causes, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found.

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Drinking driver's purim cheer

By Simon Rocker, March 22, 2016

New North London Synagogue member Paul Harris recalled this week an occasion when he was on duty as a court solicitor and a man in Orthodox dress appeared.

"I've been charged with drink-driving," said the man. "But it wasn't my fault. It was a religious festival."

"That wouldn't be Purim," asked the lawyer. "Baruch Hashem!" said the man. "The Almighty has sent a Jew to save me."

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Greece: In the lap of the gods

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2016

As a zig-zag of lightning split the sky, the omens did not look good. Zeus, king of the gods, must have got out on the wrong side of bed. His home, Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain in Greece, lay across the water, visible on a clearer day. But by the time we had finished our breakfast at Ikos Oceania resort, the storm clouds had passed us by, leaving normal duty to be resumed by the pool.

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Husbands who deny gets could lose burial rights

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2016

Husbands who deny their divorcing wives a get could be stripped of their burial rights under measures approved by the United Synagogue this week.

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Chief Rabbi: don’t stigmatise people for raising fears about immigration

By Simon Rocker, March 11, 2016

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said no one should be stigmatised for raising questions about the impact of immigration on Europe.

He was reacting to remarks made by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that there was “genuine fear” among people over an influx of refugees.

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Criticised school looks to turnaround expert

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2016

Simon Marks Jewish Primary School in Hackney has drafted in a turnaround specialist to improve its fortunes after a critical inspection last spring.

Gareth Thomas, the new interim head, will outline his plans to parents at special meetings next Monday.

Headteacher Gill Ross, who has been absent since January, has stepped down because of ill-health, governors' chair Howard Pallis said.

The

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Burial society sued over cash-for-tomb request

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2016

A London financier's grave in a continental cemetery has remained unadorned for four years because the local burial society is demanding 100,000 euros for a tombstone, his representatives say.

The family and executors of the estate of the late Albert Fuss, who died in 2012, aged 76, have asked the Belgian courts to intervene in order to put up a commemorative stone.

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London Beth Din names and shames husband for refusing wife a get

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2016

The London Beth Din has called on synagogues in London and Paris to deny entry to a man until he gives his wife a get.

In a notice written in Hebrew, English and French, dayanim said that it was “unconscionable” for Yossi Elkouby to continue to leave his wife Rifka Meyer an agunah, a chained woman.

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Soup fit for royals

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2016

The Duchess of Cornwall received some tasteful advice during her visit this week to the Holocaust Survivors Centre in London for the next time she and Prince Charles travel to their lodge in Romania.

One plucky survivor who was born in the country, after asking after "the old boy" ("He's very good, he's in Norfolk," replied the duchess) recommended they try some local soup.

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Counting on Paul’s success

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2016

Former Oxford University J-Soc president Paul Erdunast has notched up an impressive string of victories this week on the Channel 4 quiz, Countdown.

The classics graduate from Pinner, 23, who plans to be a barrister, has so far left opponents trailing in his wake. He was gold medallist in last year's Mind Sports Olympiad for Tetris.

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Arkush rolls in silver

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2016

Belfast's Jewish community laid on the VIP treatment for visiting Board of Deputies president, Jonathan Arkush. They hired a silver Rolls Royce for him to tour the city. Half-way through, the Roller got called away on another assignment, but never mind, the president was able to continue his trip in a Bentley.

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Israelis go wild for ben

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2016

Israelis have been buying into the Wildest Dreams of London sixth-former Ben Izak. His debut EP, which was released on Monday, reached number four in Israel's iTunes album chart the next day. The Immanuel College head boy, whose real name is Bertie Green, also entered the equivalent top 100 for the UK.

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