Simon Rocker



Limmud - what the international Jewish media said

By Simon Rocker, January 8, 2014

Here's the views of some guests from abroad at the Limmud conference published over the past few days:

"The weather was awful, and the food not much better- but everything else about this annual British-Jewish mega-event was fabulous” “Judy Maltz of Ha’aretz

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JLC and Board leaders hold unity talks

By Simon Rocker, January 8, 2014

Representatives of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council met today to pursue talks about possible unification.

Discussions were briefly suspended in autumn following JLC complaints that it had not been consulted by the Board over the formation of a new parliamentary group on British Jews.

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The Gateshead Rav on Limmud

By Simon Rocker, January 6, 2014

The Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Shraga Faivel Zimmerman, has returned to the question of Limmud, in an article in last week’s edition of the Orthodox weekly, the Jewish Tribune.

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Can friends argue without falling out?

By Simon Rocker, January 5, 2014

God chose the Jews because He likes a good argument, the Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks joked. Jews are a quite an argumentative lot, said Simon Schama in his recent TV series.

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We’ll be there again next year, say US rabbis

By Simon Rocker, January 2, 2014

The United Synagogue rabbis who attended this year’s Lmmud have praised the conference and agreed that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was correct in his controversial decision to attend it.

Nine US rabbis joined the chief rabbi in participating in the five-day cross-communal event, at Warwick University, defying criticism from right-wing sections of the Orthodox community.

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Outreach groups press for Orthodox unity

By Simon Rocker, January 2, 2014

Around 100 Orthodox rabbis from across the country are expected to gather at a conference at the weekend convened at short notice by leading outreach organisations.

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The next chief?

By Simon Rocker, December 31, 2013

As we forecast last month, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, is set to come home to take the pulpit at Finchley United vacated in spring by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

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Should I put my mother-in-law in a home?

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

Question: My husband wants his frail mother to come and live with us. But she is a cantakerous old woman who I believe will be a disruptive presence in our house. I know we’re supposed to respect our elders but for the good of our family, I believe that she should go into a home. What should I do?

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Keeping the religious peace

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

There is a growing literature of religious trialogue — the encounter between the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But this book, conceived by Dr Aly El-Samman, an Egyptian Muslim who spent many years in France and is connected with the influential Islamic university in Cairo Al-Azhar, has a difference.

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The chief rabbi and partnership minyans

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

It was hardly a shock when Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote to his rabbis last week to rule out partnership minyans – Orthodox services where women can read from the Torah and lead certain prayers.

Whereas his recent decisions to go to Limmud or approve the election of women as trustees of the United Synagogue were welcome, they were not unexpected and hardly radical.

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Families refreshed after their Limmud break

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

Limmud holds special memories for Ben Leon, till recently a Mitzvah Day trustee, and his wife Charlotte.

The London-based couple met at its winter conference 15 years ago.

This year they returned with children Raphael, 10, and Ariella, seven.

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European Jewry alive and kicking

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

There are some people in the Jewish world who have written off European Jewry as a lost cause. But not everyone regards us as basically only a pool for potential aliyah.

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Same-sex weddings 'impossible' in Orthodoxy

By Simon Rocker, December 26, 2013

One of the UK’s most open-minded Orthodox rabbis said that the same-sex marriage was “impossible” in Jewish law and that “sometimes you have to say no”.

Reading Synagogue’s Rabbi Zvi Solomons was addressing the subject at a panel debate on the subject on the final day of the Limmud conference.

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Take your Talmud with a shot of tequila

By Simon Rocker, December 25, 2013

It must have been the hottest class at the conference - because it came with a fiery orange cocktail of tequila, carrot juice and hot tabasco sauce.

When Rachel Kobrin, a Conservative rabbi from Austin, Texas, ran a late-night Talmud class at Limmud this week, she decided to spice things up a bit by serving drinks through the proceedings.

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The priest who is spending Christmas at Limmud

By Simon Rocker, December 25, 2013

The Reverend Patrick Morrow will not be eating turkey or brandy-soaked plum pudding for Christmas lunch. He is more likely to make do with a snatched sandwich and a cup of soup.

The Anglican priest, who is the programme manager of the Council of Christians and Jews, has instead decided to remain at the Limmud conference in Warwick, where he has spent the previous three days.

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Jessica Rabbit

By Simon Rocker, December 25, 2013

This is the most modest picture of Jessica Rabbit

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Teach your children to make aliyah, MK urges

By Simon Rocker, December 24, 2013

An Israeli MK called for higher aliyah from Western countries at the Limmud conference today.

American-born Rabbi Dov Lipman, who entered the Knesset earlier this year as a member of Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid party, said: “I am not a person who says that every single person should drop everything and move… But I do believe we should be raising our children to move to Israel.”

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The Chief's Limmud triumph

By Simon Rocker, December 24, 2013

When Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis announced his decision to go to Limmud, he might have expected the odd murmur of disapproval to his right.

But he must have been taken aback by the stridency of the resulting Charedi attack on Limmud, a clear attempt to dissuade his rabbinate from accompanying him there.

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Why I was blindfolded

By Simon Rocker, December 24, 2013

According to rabbinic lore, the giving of the Ten Commandments was almost fatal. The voice of God who uttered the first two was so powerful that it killed the Israelites and they had to be resurrected (after which, understandably, Moses took over).

So imagine my apprehension when I attended a session which sought to recreate the receiving of the Ten Commandments.

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Tuesday noon

By Simon Rocker, December 24, 2013

Free drinks and late-night Talmud - what could be better than that?

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