Simon Rocker

Board of Deputies refuses to lobby Chinese over Judaism

By Simon Rocker, December 20, 2013

The Board of Deputies has rejected a call to lobby Chinese authorities to recognise Judaism as one of the country’s official religions.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, had urged the move after meeting Chinese Jews earlier this year.

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Was Limmud right to ditch Kabbalah Centre?

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2013

Limmud’s decision late in the day to drop a speaker from the London Kabbalah Centre, following outrage over his scheduled appearance at next week’s conference, has prompted debate over the limits of inclusion.

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Classic bedtime tales to keep children listening

By Simon Rocker, December 16, 2013

When my son was a young boy, I wanted to read him some stories of Jewish interest besides the favoured pirate adventures. After all, Judaism has generally communicated its ideas and values through stories rather than systematic creed so where better than to start at bedtime?

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Women 'could head US in 10 years'

By Simon Rocker, December 16, 2013

The United Synagogue could be led by a woman within a decade, its president Stephen Pack has forecast.

He said that, while the presidency would remain in male hands, “that doesn’t mean to say it will never change”.

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US 'to take control' of Office of Chief Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, December 16, 2013

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack revealed this week that the organisation wants a closer relationship with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis than it had with his predecessor, Lord Sacks.

Mr Pack explained that this was the reason why the US had now taken control of the Office of the Chief Rabbi, which had previously been run by the independent Chief Rabbinate Trust.

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Making Horrible Histories into comedy gold

By Simon Rocker, December 13, 2013

Dave Cohen has been in the comedy business for 30 years, writing for such shows as Spitting Image and Have I Got News for You. But lampooning politicians or celebrities is not his greatest claim to fame.

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African’s Limmud let-down

By Simon Rocker, December 12, 2013

The head of a new Jewish community in the African republic of Cameroon who was due to speak at the Limmud conference this month is unable to come because his visa application was turned down.

Serge Etele, the spiritual head of Beth Yeshourun, had been scheduled to present several sessions.

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Limmud pulls Kabbalah Centre sessions

By Simon Rocker, December 12, 2013

Limmud has withdrawn sessions led by the leader of London’s controversial Kabbalah Centre from its programme, after rabbis voiced disquiet over his involvement.

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‘Limmud has opened the door to cults’ say rabbis

By Simon Rocker, December 12, 2013

Leading rabbis have expressed astonishment that the leader of the London branch of the controversial Kabbalah Centre has been invited to speak at Limmud.

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Who's on at Limmud

By Simon Rocker, December 12, 2013

The Limmud conference, which starts in just over a week, includes a large cast of Torah teachers, educators and religious scholars from abroad.

Here are just a few of the guests:

Rabbi David Wolpe:
named as America’s most influential rabbi by Newsweek in 2012, the Conservative leader is author of book such as Why Faith Matters.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow:

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New London chair for Sacks

By Simon Rocker, December 9, 2013

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has been given another academic post with his appointment as Professor of Law, Ethics and Bible at King’s College, London.

Since his retirement as Chief Rabbi, he has taken on visiting posts at Yeshiva and New York Universities in the United States.

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Moroccans party in mint condition

By Simon Rocker, December 9, 2013

The mint tea was flying from the bar. Crispy Moroccan doughnuts — sfenj — were being dipped in sugar. And in a corner of the room at the Porat Yosef Moroccan synagogue in Hendon stood an Arabic tent with cushions, lanterns and synthetic palms, set up by Harif, the Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.

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United Synagogue let women in as minority

By Simon Rocker, December 6, 2013

The London Beth Din has reassured rabbis that the majority of United Synagogue trustees must be men, following last week’s announcement that women would be allowed to stand for office next year.

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Vatican’s Hebrew documents to go online

By Simon Rocker, December 6, 2013

Some of the Vatican’s most prized medieval Hebrew manuscripts are to go online in a joint partnership with Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

Works of Kabbalah, biblical commentary and Jewish law dating from as early as the ninth century will be among the items made accessible to scholars through the joint digitisation venture.

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In France, state schools avoided over hate fears

By Simon Rocker, December 6, 2013

French parents are increasingly sending their children to Jewish schools because of concern over antisemitism, according to the head of the country’s Jewish representative council.

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Series of events will mark exodus of Jews from Arab countries

By Simon Rocker, December 6, 2013

Plans have been announced for a week-long series of events next year to mark the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries during the 20th century.

The centre-piece will be a commemorative international day, on February 17.

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Revealed: the Chief Rabbi’s Limmud plan

By Simon Rocker, December 5, 2013

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis will make more than a token visit to the Limmud education conference, according to a draft schedule seen by the JC.

He will present two sessions on successive days at the cross-communal event, which starts in a fortnight at Warwick University.

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Mr Speaker not short on words

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2013

Guest of honour John Bercow’s florid style had one guest at the Jami dinner on Monday noting down words to look up in the dictionary afterwards.

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Hot turkey at Thanskgivukkah

By Simon Rocker, December 4, 2013

Here’s one London family who marked Thanksgivukkah, last Thursday’s rare coincidence of Thanksgiving and Chanucah. Lighting their special turkey-shaped “menurkey” (from left) are Eden, Ava and Lulu Cohen, daughters of Shimon Cohen, of the PR Office, and his New Yorker wife Jessica.

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Recycled jokes for politicians

By Simon Rocker, December 2, 2013

The coalition parties might not always see eye to eye but at least their leaders like the same Chanucah joke.
At the Downing Street Chanucah do last week, Prime Minister David Cameron said that when he told his cabinet colleagues about one day’s oil lasting eight nights and their ears pricked up, he had to remind them it was a miracle, not an energy policy.

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