Simon Rocker

The Israeli rabbi fighting the religious status quo

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Many Israelis were disappointed when Rabbi David Stav failed to win election as the country's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi last year. There had been high hopes of him prising the institution from its Charedi grip and introducing a more modern Orthodox outlook.

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Federation denies it is placing shechita at risk

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Federation of Synagogues president Andrew Cohen rebutted claims this week that its new shechita operation could put the future of British kosher beef at risk.

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Married and renting - report reveals the state of Jewish households

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

British Jewry may be growing poorer with a decline in home ownership and a rise in people renting accommodation, according to a report published this week.

Home ownership among Jews in England and Wales fell from 77 per cent of households to 73 per cent over the past decade. Jews are still more likely to own their homes than the general population, where the figure is 64 per cent.

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Coroner row escalates

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Representatives of London's strictly Orthodox community have dismissed claims of hounding a coroner in a long-running dispute over autopsies.

Mary Hassell, senior coroner for Inner North London, was reported by the Mail on Sunday to have written to Camden Council asking for protection from "bullying, intimidation and the threat of violence".

Twice last year the relatives of elderly Orthodox

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Report reveals numbers living alone

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Nearly one in six Jewish households in England and Wales consists of a person aged 65 or older and living alone.

Jews are more likely to live alone than people in England and Wales in general because of the older age profile of the Jewish community, according to a report published this week by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

Around 45 per cent of Jews in their eighties live a

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Limmud fans beat the jams

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2015

Harrow Limmud's ambition in moving to a larger venue paid off as it attracted double the number who came to its last staging two years ago.

A sell-out attendance of 1,000 enjoyed a choice of 134 sessions covering food, film, football and much more at JFS's Kenton premises on Sunday.

"We were thrilled at how the event went," said organising team co-ordinator Helen Levy.

Participants were u

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United Synagogue attacks Federation meat operation as 'jeopardising shechita'

By Simon Rocker, March 13, 2015

The United Synagogue has hit out at the Federation of Synagogues’ new kosher meat operation, claiming that it could lead to price rises.

The Federation’s mehadrin meat range – aimed at strictly Orthodox consumers – went on sale in one London shop on Wednesday.

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Teacher praised by David Cameron named as new King Solomon head

By Simon Rocker, March 13, 2015

A teacher praised by Prime Minister David Cameron is to be the next head of King Solomon High School in Redbridge.

Matthew Slater, who previously taught at Hasmonean High School and was first deputy head of Yavneh College, will start at the 920-pupil school after Pesach.

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DVD release for Hostages

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

If you missed the highly-acclaimed Israeli drama Hostages, which concludes on BBC Four on Saturday night, all is not lost; the box set of the10-part Hebrew thriller is out on DVD on Monday.

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New kosher meat operation 'could put shechita at risk'

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

The president of the London Board for Shechita has warned that a new meat operation launched by the Federation of Synagogues could threaten the future of kosher beef in Britain.

Benjamin Mire said the initiative could result in the closure of the LBS's cattle abattoirs in Manchester.

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Orthodox allegiance is what's really at stake

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

Behind the latest manoeuvrings over kosher meat lies a battle to capture the allegiance of the growing number of frum young families in north-west London.

The Federation of Synagogues, keen to throw off any lingering idea that it is a relic of the old East End, believes there is a gap in the religious market to the right of the United Synagogue and it is well-placed to fill it.

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'Limit on child benefits would hit Charedim'

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2015

The Board of Deputies says it would be concerned if the Conservatives went ahead with a proposal to limit child benefit for families with more than three children.

Dominic Raab, Tory MP for Esher and Walton, told BBC Two's Newsnight that the party was considering capping the benefit.

A Board spokesman responded this week by saying the organisation would be "concerned about the effect any mea

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Federation says its kosher meat operation is not causing communal disunity

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2015

The Federation of Synagogues has rejected claims of causing conflict in London’s kosher meat market by launching a new range of products aimed at strictly Orthodox consumers.

Benjamin Mire, president of the London Board of Shechita, the licensing body for mainstream kosher butchers, last week spoke of his “shock” at learning of the planned Federation operation.

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Claims of new kosher meat operation prompt concern over communal unity

By Simon Rocker, March 9, 2015

The Federation of Synagogues has been accused of trying to launch a separate shechita operation in conflict with the supervising body for London’s mainstream kosher meat market.

Benjamin Mire, the president of the London Board for Shechita (LBS), has written to Federation president Andrew Cohen to express concern and disappointment at what he called “shocking matters”.

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Mirvis brings in cash for 'excellence'

By Simon Rocker, March 9, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis remembers the episode well. Some 15 years ago, as a United Synagogue minister, he was mentoring a younger colleague in an outlying community who had come up with a “fantastic idea” — a Friday night dinner for the under-40s.

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Review: Speaking Torah

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2015

Arthur Green and others
Jewish Lights, 2 volumes, $34.99 each

In their streimels and spodiks and long white socks, the Chasidim can seem a world apart. But they have left their mark on the wider Jewish community.

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Partnership minyan to be launched in Hendon

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2015

The demand for partnership minyans, Orthodox services where women can take a public role, is growing, with plans to hold the first one in Hendon this month.

Partnership services already take place every few weeks in Elstree and Golders Green, while another minyan has met occasionally in Hampstead.

The Hendon minyan will hold its first service in a private home on Friday night, March 13.

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Census revision means there's 1,727 more of us

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2015

The number of Jews in Britain has officially increased by over 1,700 after the Office for National Statistics revised its figures for the last Census.

A recalculation of the religious make-up of three London boroughs has resulted in there being more than 1,727 Jews in the country than was initially thought.

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Notts still keen to join US despite rabbi's opposition

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2015

Lay leaders of Nottingham Hebrew Congregation are pressing ahead with plans to join the London-based United Synagogue despite the steadfast opposition of the community's rabbi.

In a letter to members, Nottingham's acting president Stuart Joseph wrote that a "large majority" of the executive had last week approved a deal with the US.

However, he apologised for postponing a ballot of Nottingha

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Mehadrin meat move

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2015

Speculation was growing this week that the Federation of Synagogues could be on the verge of launching a new kosher meat range.

For many years, the Federation has co-operated over the supervision of kosher meat with the United Synagogue and Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation as a partner in the London Board for Shechita.

A few weeks ago, the London Board rejected a proposal from the F

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