Simon Rocker

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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Board bids for £400,000 grant to promote social integration

By Simon Rocker, March 4, 2015

The Board of Deputies has joined Muslim and Hindu groups in a consortium to bid for a £400,000 government grant to promote social integration.

An application went in this week from the Board and its partners to run the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Strengthening Faith Institutions programme.

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Sacks tackles religious violence in next book

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is to explore the origins of religious violence in his next book.

“Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence” will be published in June by Hodder Faith.

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US 'must shift resources to local shuls'

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

The former chairman of one of the United Synagogue's largest communities says its new strategic review could be pivotal if the organisation can take the steps necessary to implement it.

Lord Mendelsohn, who was a strong advocate of change in the US when chairing Finchley Synagogue, said that "there needs to be a tremendous shift of resources from the centre to local communities".

The review,

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Is it the end of Golders Green Charedi giants?

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

The death last week of the nonagenarian president of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern, not only deprived Golders Green of one of its most influential post-war Jewish figures, it marked the passing of the area's Charedi old guard.

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Bad health affects one in 20

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

Around 2,000 Jewish children have a health condition which limits them in some way, according to a report published this week by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

One in 20 of British Jews overall are in bad or very bad health, JPR found in its analysis of the 2011 Census.

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Shul shelter finds right recipe to help homeless

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2015

It was 7.30 on a Saturday night and Lorelai Burcea was stirring herbs into a large saucepan of mushroom sauce gently heating in the kitchen of the West London Synagogue.

The guests had already arrived and were chatting or reading the papers over coffee.

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Dawkins, Sacks and Jewish Nobel laureates

By Simon Rocker, February 20, 2015

A year and a half ago Richard Dawkins caused more than his usual stir when he tweeted that the entire Muslim population had won fewer Nobels than Trinity College Cambridge.

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Time to change: we must adapt say shul leaders

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2015

The United Synagogue should play a greater leadership role in British Jewry while offering more cultural programmes to attract secular Jews, a major review has concluded.

Europe's largest synagogue body must move away from regarding shuls as "religious sanctuaries" and make its centres more welcoming if it is to succeed.

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Mirvis addresses Muslim dinner in Cardiff

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has, for the first time, been guest of honour at a Muslim dinner, delivering a keynote speech to the Muslim Council of Wales.

Addressing a Cardiff audience of 400 including Lesley Griffiths, Communities Minister of the Welsh Assembly, he emphasised his commitment to Muslim-Jewish co-operation, calling for greater dialogue in challenging times.

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Met chief is an admirer of Hill street patrols

By Simon Rocker, February 16, 2015

London’s second most senior policeman visited Stamford Hill to salute the work of the local division of Shomrim, the Orthodox community safety patrol.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey praised the volunteer group’s “exceptional” contribution at its second annual meeting.

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Religious leaders join walk for peace

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

A group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders are to front a one-day “pilgrimage” across London next Thursday in a demonstration of interfaith fellowship.

Masorti Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, who will be taking part in the walk, said its aim was to support “the values of freedom, democracy, equality and respect for life”.

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UKIP’s family-unfriendly benefit policy

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2015

UKIP tied itself up in knots last week, after announcing support for a ban on religious slaughter, only for senior party members to indicate they were looking for a way to backtrack.

But it is not the only policy that would not go down well within the Jewish community.

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