Simon Rocker

Why the real threat comes from EU labelling proposal

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

A few weeks ago the Supreme Court of Poland slapped down a parliamentary recommendation to introduce a ban on shechita, declaring that it would contravene human rights and amount to discrimination against the country's Jews. Shechita defence campaigners consider it a gold-standard ruling in protecting religious freedom.

More..

Concern voiced over church Israel readings

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

A series of readings produced by a church group for Lent has aroused concern over the portrayal of Israel.

The Board of Deputies and the Council of Christians and Jews have taken issue with some of the material published online by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, an umbrella group for different denominations.

The readings focus on the situation of Christians in the Middle East, with

More..

Chief's caution on baby law

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is reserving judgment on the new fertility technique to enable the creation of a baby by three people.

But Reform Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner welcomed this week's House of Commons vote in favour of the procedure, which is designed to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases from mother to child.

In a statement, the Chief Rabbi and the London Beth Din sai

More..

Meaty fall-out as shechita board rejects Fed proposal

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2015

The London Board for Shechita has rejected a plan from the Federation of Synagogues to introduce a new mehadrin range of meat.

More..

Concern voiced over church material on Israel

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2015

A series of readings produced by a church body for Christians at Lent has aroused concern over their negative portrayal of Israel.

Both the Board of Deputies and the Council of Christians and Jews have taken issue with some of the material published online by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, an umbrella group for different denominations.

More..

Words on another Abraham

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2015

It seems the Board of Deputies was well-versed in the art of diplomatic correspondence long before the days of Twitter. Take this 150-year-old artefact, recently received by board president Vivian Wineman: a letter of condolence sent to the United States from past-president Sir Moses Montefiore following Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

More..

Learning with Leo Baeck

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2015

Leo Baeck College has branched out into adult education with a new evening syllabus.

Around 50 people have signed up to the college's Lehrhaus programme since it opened last autumn.

"We're really pleased by the numbers," said Leo Baeck principal Rabbi Deborah Kahn-Harris.

More..

First bets for the Board race

By Simon Rocker, January 22, 2015

There are still four months to go but an online book has already been opened on the Board of Deputies' presidential election.

Paddy Power's early favourite is Daily Mail journalist Alex Brummer, one of the Board's three vice-presidents, at 3 to 2 on.

Senior vice-president Laura Marks is at 11/8, with the third VP Jonathan Arkush at 7/1.

So far Mr Brummer is the only one to have announced

More..

Chasidic school under threat over failing to teach secular subjects

By Simon Rocker, January 22, 2015

The fate of one of the largest Chasidic schools in the country hangs in the balance after it failed an Ofsted inspection test.

Talmud Torah Yetev Lev, an independent school for 794 boys aged from three to 12, run by the Satmar sect, had already been warned by the Department for Education to improve its premises and provision for the welfare and safety of children after an emergency inspection i

More..

Pardes House scores well with inspectors

By Simon Rocker, January 22, 2015

Finchley strictly Orthodox school Pardes House Grammar has been ranked as good by inspectors.

Pupils "often reach standards that are at least one or two years ahead of their contemporaries," Ofsted reported.

Pardes House has 153 boys aged up to 16 on its roll.

More..

School must do better

By Simon Rocker, January 22, 2015

A strictly Orthodox boys' secondary school in Manchester has been told it must make improvements to meet independent school standards.

Arrangements for the welfare, health and safety of the 62 boys at the Mechinoh School were not good enough, Ofsted said.

More..

Sadness as East End shul shuts

By Simon Rocker, January 22, 2015

Members of one of the last synagogues in London's East End have decided to call it a day.

The Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue - which opened in 1899 and is an affiliate of the Federation of Synagogues - is to be sold.

"It's a sad moment for all of us," said shul president Howard Michaels. "But most of our members are not local and we had trouble getting a minyan.

More..

'Jewniorchefs' wanted

By Simon Rocker, January 22, 2015

West London Synagogue is looking for a talented teenager to cook up a winning recipe for its 175th birthday.

As part of its anniversary celebrations, the UK's oldest Reform synagogue is running a "JewniorChef" competition open to those aged from 12 to 16.

West London president Stephen Moss said "the reason we chose to focus on catering is partly due to the immense popularity of TV programmes

More..

Education Secretary meets Jewish leaders

By Simon Rocker, January 21, 2015

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has pledged the government’s commitment to faith schools at a meeting with Jewish leaders.

Representatives of the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and Partnerships for Jewish Schools discussed admissions policies, school security and Ofsted inspection standards among other matters.

More..

Defiant response in shuls and shops

By Simon Rocker and Josh Jackman, January 15, 2015

When the Centre for Jewish Life holds its next Friday night dinner for young adults at a smart London hotel at the end of the month, there will be a pause in the flow of wine and chatter. Special tributes will be paid that night to the victims of the kosher supermarket attack in Paris.

More..

Few have felt safe here for years

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2015

Three times in as many years French jihadis have struck against Jewish targets in Western Europe and each have claimed four lives.

In 2012, Mohammed Merah, who had earlier killed three French soldiers, shot dead a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

More..

Shul extension blocked

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2015

An attempt by one of the United Synagogue's newest communities, Hadley Wood, to extend its premises is being blocked by Enfield Council.

The congregation started as a satellite of Cockfosters and North Southgate Synagogue in 1990, becoming a fully-fledged US member 10 years ago. Since 2002, congregants have gathered in the ground floor of a house purchased as a meeting place.

More..

Reform shuls join forces on day care nursery

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2015

Two of the biggest Reform communities are co-operating on the launch of a year-round day care centre for babies and young children.

Finchley and North Western Reform (Alyth) Synagogues are due to open the Shofar nursery at Finchley's Sternberg Centre in September.

While both synagogues already have morning kindergartens which run during school term times, Shofar - the first of its type in th

More..

UK Muslims ‘united with Jews' against terror

By Simon Rocker, January 12, 2015

The Muslim Council of Britain has sent a message of support to the Jewish community following last week’s terror attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.

In a statement on Saturday, the organisation said that it stood “united in its solidarity with the Jewish community”.

More..

Board praised over MCB statement

By Simon Rocker, January 9, 2015

The Church of England's outgoing interfaith adviser has praised the Board of Deputies for its controversial statement with the Muslim Council of Britain during last year's Gaza conflict.

More..