Simon Rocker

A chasidic country retreat?

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

The signpost indicated an intriguing discovery deep in rural Kent: "Little Satmar Holiday Park".

Could the superfrum Chasidic sect have set up a caravan camp between Folkestone and Dover without anyone knowing?

Of course, it was too good to be true.

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Test debut for Lords Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

David Goldberg, the emeritus rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, achieved what must be a unique rabbinic accolade - being interviewed as the lunchtime guest on BBC Radio's Test Match Special on the last day of the England v India Test.

The Liberals' flagship synagogue happens to lie opposite Lords cricket ground and visiting tourist teams have often parked their coaches in the forecourt.

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Hard news for Hari

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

The writing seems on the wall for Johann Hari, the Israel-bashing Independent columnist, who has been accused of making up quotes and taking others from his interviewees' writings and passing them off as quotes made to him.

This week the Telegraph reported that he is to be stripped of his prestigious 2008 Orwell Prize, although the announcement is to be delayed pending an Indy inquiry into the

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Wide of the tattoo mark

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

Our nonsense detector began vibrating wildly when the Daily Mirror reported that Amy Winehouse could not have an Orthodox funeral unless her tattoos were removed.

Simply not true, says United Synagoue burial head Melvyn Hartog. "Halachically, you are not supposed to have tattoos," he explains. "But you also must be buried whole. Having a tattoo doesn't affect you having a Jewish burial at all.

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Laura Janner-Klausner: Why I'm not the Reform rival to the Chief Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

Diehard atheists may bristle at the mention of it, but Radio 4's Thought for Day remains a hallowed institution, a prized pulpit for religious broadcasting. There are currently three rabbis on its roster: that doyen of rabbinical broadcasters Lionel Blue, the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and the newest recruit, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner.

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Review: In the Narrow Places

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

Erica Brown
Maggid/OU, distributed by Kuperard, £15.99

We are now in the middle of the Three Weeks, the period from the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, when the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem, to Tishah b'Av, commemorating the destruction of the two Temples (which begins on Monday week).

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New Israel Fund increases income

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

The British branch of the New Israel Fund enjoyed a record fundraising year in 2010, despite an international campaign by some right-wing Zionists to discredit the organisation.

NIF UK increased its income to £1.4 million from £1.2 million the previous year.

UK chairman Nicholas Saphir said: "Last year was a significant year for NIF given the attacks on civil society and the continuing att

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Claims Conference turns down Deputies

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

The Claims Conference, the international body which distributes compensation to Nazi victims, has rejected a request from the Board of Deputies to reopen claims for former Jewish properties in East Germany.

The conference, which uses assets from previously unclaimed properties to fund welfare programmes for Holocaust survivors, closed its compensation scheme for heirs in March 2004.

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Sinai asked to take non-Jewish pupil

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

Concern is growing that there may now be too many Jewish primary school places in London, leading schools to take non-Jewish pupils in future.

Britain's largest Jewish primary school, Sinai in Kenton, which is usually oversubscribed, has been asked by its local authority to take one non-Jewish child in autumn - although it is not known if the child will accept the place.

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Man who revived European Jewry

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

Tributes have flowed in for one of British Jewry's best-known Orthodox activists, Aba Dunner, executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, who died on Sunday aged 73.

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Yachad launches campaign

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

One of Israel's leading literary figures and a former army head of intelligence have backed a new campaign to rally Anglo-Jewish support behind a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The new advocacy group Yachad is asking members to sign an open letter, urging Israel to heed "calls to return to the negotiating table," which it intends to present to new Israel ambassador Danie

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Meet the media-savvy voice of Reform Judaism

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

The Reform movement has appointed its first full-time rabbinic spokesman to act as its voice on religious issues.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, 47, who has served with one of the biggest Reform communities, the North-Western Reform Synagogue (Alyth Gardens) in London for eight years, will move to the new role of movement rabbi in January.

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JNF has second thoughts

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

JNF UK has battened down the hatches after last week's news that the head of its lucrative legacy division, Harvey Bratt, is leaving for the rival UJIA.

This week whisper reached me that JNF's finance director David Lantry had handed in his resignation, too, but when I asked JNF if this was true, it only gave the stonewalling reply that it did not comment on "issues relating to members of staff

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Back on your bike, Boris

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was guest of honour at the opening of Jewish Care's Golders Green campus last week. Before leaving, he retrieved his bicycle helmet and rucksack from behind the front desk, waving cheerio and apparently all set to peddle back to City Hall.

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It's never too late to learn

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

All praise to John North, who was awarded his doctorate from Queen Mary, University of London on Tuesday – at the age of 93.

From a Jewish family in Bohemia, he arrived here as Jan Neuberg in 1938.

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Boating the billionaire way

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

Here's a thought if you're looking for a holiday: Roman Abramovich is offering his yacht Eclipse for hire. The size of a pocket battleship, it has two pools, a gym and a helipad. Just one catch: he reportedly wants to charge £175,000 a day for it.

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Why Iran is hacked off

By Simon Rocker, July 21, 2011

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency knows, of course, the real scandal behind phone hacking.

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The Next Chief

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2011

A typically forthright contribution to the debate about the next Chief Rabbi from Rabbi Jeremy Rosen on his blog, who writes: "Not one Chief Rabbi since Hertz has stood up to the Beth Din. No new one will be any more likely to than his predecessors. The hounds of the religious right are already baying.

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JFS wins university challenge

By Simon Rocker, July 14, 2011

JFS is one of the country's top comprehensives in getting children into the leading British universities, according to a new study.
Two-thirds of JFS students gain a place at the top 30 universities, making it the seventh best comprehensive in a list published by educational charity the Sutton Trust.

King David High School Liverpool came 12th in the list with 57 per cent and the King David Hig

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Porter dining out to back Tel Aviv studies

By Simon Rocker, July 14, 2011

Dame Shirley Porter, a long-standing supporter of the Tel Aviv University Trust, was among the guests at a dinner at Middle Temple held in support of the university's Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism.

The centre's new head, Scott Ury, came from Israel along with its director Esther Webman, co-author of an award-winning book on Arab responses to the Ho

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