Simon Rocker



Struggling to pay the bills

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2011

A poignant letter in this week’s Jewish Tribune reveals one family's battle to keep their head above water in these hard economic times.

The anonymous writer used to raise money for Jewish schools, then he lost his job, home and became bankrupt. Life is now a constant struggle.

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New year machzor from Sacks

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

The Chief Rabbi's new Rosh Hashanah machzor hit the shops this week.

Edited by Dayan Ivan Binstock of the London Beth Din and published by Jerusalem-based Koren, the machzor features a new translation, commentary and introductory essay by Lord Sacks.

It is the first in a planned series of prayer books by the Chief Rabbi covering the major festivals, superseding the now out-of-print Routledg

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Dunner is off to LA for high school job

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

Saatchi Synagogue founding rabbi Pini Dunner is leaving the UK for a new educational career in the United States.

He has been appointed as the mashgiach ruchani - spiritual supervisor - for the Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Los Angeles.

His brief will be to communicate "the warmth and spirituality of Judaism", which, he said, could be done in many ways.

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Mason joins the Forum

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

The London Jewish Forum, liaising between the Jewish community and the capital's authorities, has appointed a former Union of Jewish Students campaigns officer as its new director.

Peter Mason will join the forum this month after running the office of shadow health minister Liz Kendall.

Mr Mason said the coming year would be important, "with the mayoral and London Assembly elections in May,

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Euro Jewish parliament plan

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

Plans are under way to set up a European Jewish parliament, with an online poll to elect its 120 members due to open later this month.

The initiative has been launched by the European Jewish Union, a Swiss non-profit organisation with a head office in London.

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Richmond rabbi uses Israeli knowhow to aid the world

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

There are probably not many rabbis helping to provide cleaner water in Myanmar (Burma) or first-aid training to wildlife rangers in Kenya.

But Rabbi Yossi Ives, the minister of Richmond Synagogue, is doing just that through the organisation he has founded to put Jewish humanitarian values into practice.

His enterprise, Tag International Development, supports social action and community-build

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Jews welcome ban on EDL marches

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

The London Jewish Forum has backed Home Secretary Theresa May's decision to ban a planned march by the English Defence League on Saturday through the East London borough of Tower Hamlets, home to a large Muslim population.

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A Canterbury tale - with a difference

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

Police were called to a strictly Orthodox holiday camp in Kent last month after the appearance of a stranger aroused suspicion.

A bareheaded man, not wearing Orthodox dress, entered the marquee which served as the camp's temporary synagogue at Kent University, Canterbury, one evening.

According to Levi Yitzchok Schapiro, a Jewish community activist from Stamford Hill, north London, when the

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Hare raises Israeli hackles

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

Another case of Israel being the whipping-boy on TV?

After the outrage over Channel 4's The Promise earlier this year, now the Israeli embassy plans a letter of protest to the BBC over Page Eight, David Hare's secret services thriller, which was screened on Sunday.

The film's sub-plot features Rachel Weisz (above, with fellow-star Bill Nighy) playing a Damascus-born publisher in London who s

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A man to the bimah born

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

There are probably many rabbis whose father was a rabbi. But Roni Tabick must be unique in this country in that both his parents are rabbis.

The son of Rabbis Jackie and Larry Tabick is about to enter his second year of rabbinic studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the USA.

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The winds of providence

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

One Orthodox Jewish family in New York at least had reason to be grateful to Hurricane Irene.

For years, a large mulberry tree in their grounds had deposited sticky fruit and purple mush on the pavements to their and their neighbours' annoyance.

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No shabbat for Amnesty

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

Amnesty is hosting a meeting in London next week with speakers from the Combatants for Peace group - a former Fatah commander and an Israeli ex-paratrooper. But if you are religious, you will not be able to go because it's taking place on Friday night. They won't be making kiddush.

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Inquisition at the airport

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

Actor Stephen Mangan is a well-travelled man whose destinations have ranged from Honduras to Laos. But it was one place in particular which he recalled on the Ruth Jones talk show on BBC2 on Monday night: Israel.

An airline guard, a young woman with a big gun, began grilling him about his career and even student days.

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Meet America's top congregational rabbi

By Simon Rocker, September 1, 2011

A couple of years ago, Rabbi Norman Lamm, the respected chancellor of Yeshiva University, caused a stir when he predicted the demise of non-Orthodox Judaism in the USA. It would soon be time to say Kaddish over the Conservative and Reform movements, he told the Jerusalem Post.

Certainly, Conservative Judaism appears to be in the grip of accelerating decline.

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'Remarkable' Prof Ludwik Finkelstein mourned

By Simon Rocker, August 30, 2011

Professor Ludwik Finkelstein, the distinguished scientist and accomplished Reform educator, died in London on Saturday aged 81.

Hendon Reform Synagogue's Rabbi Steven Katz paid tribute to a "remarkable man whose three passions in life were family, Judaism in all its facets and his academic expertise.

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Two Eds better than one

By Simon Rocker, August 25, 2011

Celebrity lookalike photographer Alison Jackson is planning a new stunt based on David and Ed Miliband.

Famous for her pictures, posed by lookalikes, of the royal family and politicians in unlikely scenarios, she is looking for some suitable stand-ins for the political brothers.

Her studio even placed an ad in the JC for some ersatz-Milibands.

But after a trawl of the highways and by-ways

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The Hgh Hollywood Days

By Simon Rocker, August 25, 2011

Some American rabbis keen to pep up their High Holy Day sermons have been seeking inspiration at a workshop run by Hollywood writers, including scriptwriters for Mad Men and The Simpsons. Perhaps our own ministers could take a cue; how about some help from Dan Mock the Week Patterson or Jeremy League of Gentlemen Dyson?

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When the Earth moves

By Simon Rocker, August 25, 2011

According to Rabbi Yehuda Levin of New York, this week's earthquake on the east coast of the USA was a divine protest against gay marriage.

In a video (you can see on the vozisneias website) he cites the Jerusalem Talmud which has God saying: "You have shaken your male member in a place where it doesn't belong. I, too, will shake the earth."

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Cowboy comments

By Simon Rocker, August 25, 2011

Controversy has surrounded right-wing American commentator Glenn Beck's solidarity rallies in Israel.

But even he was upstaged for over-the-top comment by one of his podium guests, actor Jon Voight, whose warning that Israel faced "a new holocaust" from the Palestinians was criticised by the Anti-Defamation League.

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Meryl's maternal instincts

By Simon Rocker, August 25, 2011

Meryl O'Rourke's one-woman show, Bad Mother, at the Edinburgh Fringe, which impressed our web reviewer, draws its edgy comedy from, among on other things, her mother's experiences in Nazi Germany.

Meryl says that the show has connected her more deeply to her Jewish roots.

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