Simon Rocker

Who will pick the new Chief Rabbi?

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

If hacking were legal, then the BlackBerry of Stephen Pack, the United Synagogue's new president, would be a prime target for those wanting inside knowledge of Anglo-Jewish affairs.

It is he who now must lead the search to find the next chief rabbi after Lord Sacks retires in September 2013 - and even though the post has not yet been advertised, the inquiries are coming in.

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Reform reject chance to choose Chief Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

The man heading the search for the next chief rabbi wants to give the non-Orthodox community a say in the appointment, in a bold gesture intended to secure communal consensus over the position.

Stephen Pack, the new president of the United Synagogue, says he would like to offer religious groups both to the right and left of central Orthodoxy a role in choosing Lord Sacks's successor.

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Bring on the karma jutra

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

Most of the books that land on my desk are worthy works of talmudic scholarship or biblical translation.

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Mid-East melee in Edinburgh

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

Daniel Cainer got more than he bargained for at the Edinburgh Festival. After a performance of his musical act More Jewish Chronicles, a couple confronted him and began to berate him for lack of support for Israel.

He was "quite surprised.

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Ballroom blitzed

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

As reports of rioting in Camden came through on Monday night, Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with rumours about the fate of young Jewish London's Saturday night hotspot, Electric Ballroom.

It was boarded up the next day, and damage looked minimal. A sigh of relief, then, for party-goers attached to dancing on a sticky floor, drinking cheap vodka and singing along to cheesy pop music.

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Tallit for the tartan army

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

Rabbi Mendel Jacobs, the Scottish Lubavitcher who launched the first official Jewish tartan, has gone one better; he has woven it into the first official tartan tallit with matching bag and kippah.

That's what you call Celtic Fringes.

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In memory of Peter Moss

By Simon Rocker, August 11, 2011

The death of travel writer Peter Moss, killed by a terror bomb in Marrakesh, was one of the sadder events of the year.

You may like to know there is a memorial football match on Sunday week between Tottenham Hotspur Legends and FC Team, the Maccabi club of which Peter was president. It's at the Gosling Centre, Hatfield. Kick-off is at 2pm.

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Shire leaves Leo Baeck for American challenge

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Leo Baeck College vice-principal Rabbi Michael Shire is leaving to become professor of Jewish religious education at Hebrew College, Boston.

Rabbi Shire will move with his wife Rabbi Marcia Plumb - who has been one of the rabbinic team at the Shaarei Tzedek North London Reform Synagogue and taught at Akiva School- and their two children.

He will also serve as dean at the graduate school at H

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Interfaith accolades

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Sidney Assor, the founding chairman of the Surrey Three Faiths Forum, has been honoured for his interfaith work by a Muslim organisation.

He was the first Jewish recipient of a British Community Honours Award at a House of Lords ceremony.

The awards were established to celebrate the achievements of British Muslims but were extended to include others working for social harmony.

Elswehere,

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£10m Redbridge project gets council green light

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Redbridge Council has given the go-ahead for the borough's largest capital project for the Jewish community.

Ilford Jewish Primary School is to be relocated on the site of the King Solomon High in Barkingside in a £10 million development.

The move emerged out of a report into Jewish schooling commissioned by the Jewish Leadership Council.

Jonathan Goldstein, who chairs the project, welco

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Cambridge interfaith first

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Cambridge University is to introduce a pioneering new master's degree in Muslim-Jewish relations in 2012.

Yousef Meri, convenor of the one-year MPhil course, said: "It's the first postgraduate course of its kind specifically in the academic study of Muslim-Jewish relations.

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Synagogue wants to keep girls hidden

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

The rabbi of one of London's oldest strictly Orthodox synagogues has been worrying that its women are too visible to men at prayer.

In a letter to the Hendon Adath Yisroel board, Rabbi Pinchas Roberts proprosed replacing its latticework mechitzah (partition) with one-way glass, so that women could have an "unobstructed view" of synagogue proceedings and men focus on prayer "without any distract

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Growing fear over UN Durban anniversary conference

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Jewish organisations are pressing the government over next month's UN conference in New York marking the tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration on anti-racism. They fear it will lead to a renewed international campaign against Israel following the previous two conferences.

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Peaches for the chupah?

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Peaches Geldof has a fondness for Jewish men. After dating director Eli Roth not so long ago, the 22-year-old model has recently moved into a new home with the singer of British band S.C.U.M, Thomas Cohen.

And the relationship could even lead to a dip in the mikveh.

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Sick notes about Amy

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

You may wonder what kind of addled brain could link Amy Winehouse's death and Israel but let me take you to the Irish4Palestine blog which found "quite a lot in common" between "the evil rogue state" and the singer, except that "she has a great voice and didn't kill people constantly".

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Fisk sued by Saudi prince

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

Humble pie at the High Court this week for the Independent's Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, who was sued by the Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud.

In an article in April, Fisk accused him of having ordered police to open fire on unarmed Shia demonstrators in March, referring to documentary evidence it had in its possession.

But the paper accepted

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Travel to Africa, at a snip

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2011

I notice that there is a new airline, Air Mohéli International, which operates from the Comoros, the small African country off Madagascar. Bet it's great for cut-price deals.

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The Sacks Chumash

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

The Chief Rabbi’s eagerly-awaited new Rosh Hashanah machzor should be reaching the shops within a week or two.

It is published by Koren, who have already produced a version of his (green) Singer’s siddur for the international market.

It should be followed by a new Yom Kippur machzor next year and the complete festival set by the time he leaves office in 2013.

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Board dismayed by EBacc exclusion of religious studies

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

The Board of Deputies is disappointed at the government's decision not to include religious studies as part of English Baccalaureate, or EBacc, its new performance measure for schools.

To qualify, pupils must gain GCSEs in five specified subjects - maths, English, science, geography or history and a foreign language.

The Board had joined religious and education organisations in lobbying for

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Rich talk for Israel critics

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

Rabbi Danny Rich, the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, has defended his participation in an event predominantly featuring speakers from organisations highly critical of Israel.

He will be keynote speaker at a seminar next month on "Israel/ Palestine", organised in west London by a Liberal-affiliated synagogue, Beit Klal Yisrael (BKY).

Speakers include Diana Neslen of Jews for Justice for

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