Simon Rocker

New chief for Council of Christians and Jews

By Simon Rocker, May 15, 2014

The founder of an Israel-Palestine dialogue charity is to become the new director of the Council of Christian and Jews.

Dr Jane Clements, who is the director of the Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine, will succeed the The Reverend David Gifford as head of the interfaith charity in July.


King Solomon head Jo Shuter banned from teaching

By Simon Rocker, May 13, 2014

The headteacher of King Solomon High School in Redbridge, Jo Shuter, has been banned from teaching after abusing expenses in a previous role.

Ms Shuter admitted a number of allegations of inappropriate claims, including £7,000 for a 50th birthday party, while head of the Quintin Kynaston Community Academy in London before a teaching standards panel last month.


JLC enlists Reform man

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2014

The Jewish Leadership Council has moved quickly to address concerns at the lack of a senior Progressive figure at its top table.

Reform movement chairman Robert Weiner was not among the 12 trustees elected or co-opted by the council last week.

But he has now been invited to attend meetings of the trustee board following dissatisfaction from the Reform and Liberal movements.


King Solomon head awaits fate after expenses misconduct

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2014

King Solomon High School head teacher Jo Shuter must await her fate after being found guilty of professional misconduct over expense claims while in a previous job.


Nottingham rabbi resists US affiliation

By Simon Rocker, May 8, 2014

A regional rabbi has offered to take a pay cut rather than let his congregation join the United Synagogue to secure its future.

Rabbi Moshe Perez, who has served the Nottingham Hebrew Congregation for around 25 years, is leading the opposition to moves to affiliate to the London-based synagogue body.


Board of Deputies new chief executive revealed

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2014


The Board of Deputies has appointed former Labour minister Gillian Merron as its new chief executive.

Ms Merron, 55, who served as the MP for Lincoln for 13 years until she lost her seat in the 2010 election, joined the board of Liberal Judaism two years ago and was appointed a vice-president of the Jewish Leadership Council last year.


Holy smokers - Chasidim and Tobacco

By Simon Rocker, May 4, 2014

One of the complaints made against the Chasidim by their opponents, the Mitnagdim, was that they smoked too much. The movement’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov, reputedly puffed on a lulke, a long pipe, to help his spiritual ruminations. Others made use of “incense of the nose” — snuff.


Board of Deputies treasurer ‘shocked’ by visit to West Bank

By Simon Rocker, May 2, 2014

Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass has said he was horrified at what he witnessed during a visit to a West Bank village, describing it as an “eye-opener”.

Mr Brass, who was spending Pesach in Israel, took part in a private capacity in a one-day trip organised by Yachad UK and led by a guide from the anti-occupation Israeli army veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence.


Israeli embassy attacks Methodist report

By Simon Rocker, May 2, 2014

The Israeli embassy has attacked a briefing paper produced by the Methodist Church on the case for and against boycotting Israel.

The document, which makes no recommendations either way, is set to go to the church’s policy-making conference in Birmingham next month.


Senior Board officer to stand for Labour Party

By Simon Rocker, May 1, 2014

The Board of Deputies’ director of public affairs, Phil Rosenberg, is entering the political arena as a Labour candidate in this month’s local elections.

He will be fighting for a seat in the Liberal Democrat-held West Hampstead ward in the London borough of Camden.


Masorti signs up to pay Living Wage to workers

By Simon Rocker, April 28, 2014

Masorti Judaism has become a Living Wage employer, following the lead of Liberal Judaism which was the first synagogue movement to sign up to the campaign at the end of last year.
Masorti marked its accreditation from Citizens UK's Living Wage Foundation at a Jewish study session at the movement's offices last Thursday.

Under the scheme, employers undertake to pay a minimum of £7.65 an hour n


When being Jewish becomes too expensive

By Simon Rocker, April 27, 2014

Not for nothing is matzah called the bread of poverty: because when you tot up your Pesach bills afterwards, they are likely to have made a deep hole in your pocket. The ritual outcry against Passover prices came this year with disturbing reports of a growing numbers of people having had to rely on charity to help them celebrate it.


David Baddiel’s Infidel gets ready to sing

By Simon Rocker, April 25, 2014

A musical of David Baddiel’s 2010 film about Muslims and Jews, The Infidel, which starred comedian Omid Djalili, looks set for a stage run after the success of an online fundraising campaign.

An appeal on the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter this month reached the £55,000 target needed to subsidise performances at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London later this year.


Judge ends battle of tycoons

By Simon Rocker, April 24, 2014

Russian-Israeli businessman Arkady Gaydamak has lost a fresh claim in the British courts against tycoon Lev Leviev over a Angolan diamond deal worth more than a billion pounds.
High Court judge Mr Justice Mann granted an application from Mr Leviev, who is also of Russian-Israeli background, to strike out the case nearly two years after a previous court judgment.


Methodists' boycott report criticised

By Simon Rocker, April 24, 2014

A briefing paper on the pros and cons of boycotting Israel published by the Methodist Church today has been criticised by the Israeli Embassy and the Board of Deputies.


US rabbis ‘infantilised’ by Charedi Beth Din rulings

By Simon Rocker, April 18, 2014

A senior United Synagogue rabbi has attacked the London Beth Din over the scrapping of a newly introduced practice to give women a greater role within Orthodox services.

Rabbi Michael Harris, of Hampstead Synagogue, who has been the most prominent champion of modern Orthodoxy within the US, called the incident “disturbing”.


Faith schools must teach sex, say 82%

By Simon Rocker, April 17, 2014

A vast majority of the population believes religious schools should not be allowed special dispensation over the national curriculum, according to the results of a YouGov poll for the JC.


Going strong after 50 years: fundraising’s golden girls

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2014

Among the army of Jewish charity workers, no one could deserve long-service medals more than “the girls” of Southgate Wizo.

For more than half-a-century, they have met fortnightly in each other’s north London homes to plot ways to raise money for Israel.


It's Professor Bayfield

By Simon Rocker, April 11, 2014

Reform president Rabbi Tony Bayfield has joined the elite band of rabbinical professors after being appointed to a chair of modern Jewish theology and thought at London's Leo Baeck College.

It is only the second time the Progressive rabbinic academy has made a professorial appointment since its establishment in 1956.

Rabbi Bayfield, who retired as Reform chief executive at the end of 2010, s


Senior Board of Deputies members oppose appointment of new chief executive

By Simon Rocker, April 11, 2014

Senior members of the Board of Deputies are opposed to the appointment of a new chief executive until the outcome of merger talks with the Jewish Leadership Council is clear.

The Board is believed to have narrowed its search down to two names, with a further round of interviews due to take place today.