Simon Rocker

Lawyer David Hoffman appointed new chair of Limmud

By Simon Rocker, November 30, 2015

Manchester-based lawyer David Hoffman is to take over as chairman of Limmud at the beginning of next year.

The commercial barrister, who has chaired Limmud International and revived its regional events in his home city, was appointed by the organisation’s educational trustees to succeed Kevin Sefton, who has led it for the past three years.

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Expanding JLC hikes spending to over £3m

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2015

The Jewish Leadership Council's spending has rocketed by around 400 per cent in three years as it continues to expand its role within the community.

Its expenditure leapt from £654,000 in 2011 to £3,270,000 in 2014, breaking the £3 million barrier for the first time.

Spending was up by nearly £500,000 from £2,782,000 in 2013, according to the organisation's newly published accounts.

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No one is talking about merger now

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2015

Nearly two and a half years ago the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council announced plans to explore the possibility of uniting in a single, representative body. Now one may well ask: "Merger? What merger?"

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Home alone without a Jewish school

By Simon Rocker, November 22, 2015

Last week we ran a feature about an 11-year-old Hertfordshire boy being kept at home by his parents because he had been unable to gain a place at a Jewish secondary school.

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The heresy hunt comes to Europe

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2015

Two years after a brave young American rabbi published an online essay, the row it provoked continues to rumble.

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East End synagogue is sold to its Muslim neighbours

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2015

The sale of an old East End synagogue to a neighbouring mosque has been hailed as an example of positive relations between Jews and Muslims.

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, which shut earlier this year, has been bought by the adjacent East London Mosque, the largest in the country.

Judge Khurshid Drabu, a trustee of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, noted that the synagogue had given their

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Orthodox modernising row goes global

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2015

European rabbis have waded into a dispute that threatens to fracture American Orthodoxy.

The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) voted last week to blackball graduates of a New York yeshivah at the centre of a row over its modernising tendencies.

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There are 25,000 Israelis in Britain, survey reveals

By Simon Rocker, November 18, 2015

The most extensive survey carried out on Israelis living in Britain has put their number at around 25,000.

Although considerably lower than the claims often made for the expatriate Israeli population, the figure is based on “the most reliable count we have had,” said Dr Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

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What to do about the children of intermarried couples?

By Simon Rocker, November 17, 2015

Inreach or outreach? It’s a continuing dilemma for policy-makers in Jewish communities.

Do you target your educational efforts on those who are already within the communal loop – synagogue members, Jewish day school pupils etc? Or do you try to engage the widest spectrum of Jews, or even potential Jews? If money were no object, of course, you would not have to choose.

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Israel, British Jews and the religious divide

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2015

The findings of the City University survey on British-Jewish attitudes to Israel will no doubt be talked and argued about over Friday night tables, Saturday morning kiddush and elsewhere over the next few days.

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Board opposes 'anti-family' welfare cut

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2015

The Board of Deputies and strictly Orthodox charity Interlink have joined a coalition of Christian groups in opposing welfare cuts, which they say will hit large families.

A briefing paper prepared for the House of the Lords, which is due to discuss the proposal next week, describes the measures as "fundamentally anti-family".

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Yeshivot may be under threat in crackdown

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2015

Some Jewish religion schools could face closure after the head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw called for the authorities to act against unregistered schools.

In a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, he expressed concern that "not enough is being done to stop this illegal activity".

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How liberal are US Jews? Very, says poll

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2015

American Jews remain strongly liberal in their political and social views, a new study has confirmed.

While 43 per cent of Christians vote Republican and 40 per cent Democrat, the figure for religiously identifying Jews is 64 per cent Democrat and 26 per cent Republican, according to the Pew Centre's 2014 survey of the American religious landscape.

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Men who refuse a get may lose burial rights

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2015

Men who refuse to give their wives a religious bill of divorce may be stripped of their burial rights, the London Beth Din has confirmed.

The religious court of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis last week took the unprecedented step of publishing a notice in the JC banning from synagogue a man who had denied his wife a get.

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Survey finds 41 per cent of young Jews would back sanctions against Israel to advance peace

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2015

Two in five British Jews aged under 30 would back sanctions against Israel if it encouraged the country to engage in peace talks with the Palestinians, according an internet questionnaire funded by the left of centre organisation, Yachad.

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Don’t despair at violence, says peace activist honoured by New Israel Fund

By Simon Rocker, November 9, 2015

An Israeli activist who pursues reconciliation between Jews and Arabs told supporters that he would not give up despite the current outbreak of violence in the country.

Dr Gadi Gvaryahu, the founder of Tag Meir, was one of three recipients this year of the UK branch of the New Israel Funds’ annual human rights awards which honours Israeli social activists.

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'Shun' husband refusing to grant his wife a get, Beth Din tells shuls

By Simon Rocker, November 6, 2015

The London Beth Din has taken the unprecedented step of calling for a man to be banned from synagogues and publicly shunned because he has refused to grant his wife a religious divorce.

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Schools' GCSE results take a dip

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2015

Jewish schools performed less well at GCSE this year, according to provisional government figures.

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Adath auditions Canadian candidate

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2015

Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue's long search for a new rabbi could be nearing completion after members were told that a Canadian candidate would be coming to "audition" for the post later this month.

Montreal-born Rabbi Shloime Yitzchok Bixenspanner, the founder of central Toronto congregation Kahal Yereim, will meet Hendon Adath members and give classes during his visit.

The shul, affiliate

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Revealed: The secrets behind the UK’s super synagogues

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2015

When American sociologist Professor Steven Cohen came here to carry out a study of British synagogues, he had to learn a new word: “rota”. Was it some kind of food, he wondered, “like roti”.

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