Simon Rocker

Stoning shul truants

By Simon Rocker, April 28, 2011

Nonsense of the Week award goes to atheist philosopher A.C. Grayling, who was quoted in Metro saying that there was a chapter in Deuteronomy which tells you "how you should stone to death anybody who doesn't go to synagogue on the Sabbath".

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Hard to put the lid on yid

By Simon Rocker, April 28, 2011

Spurs supporters cocked a predictable snook last week at attempts to ban the word "yid" and the antisemitism it reflects on the terraces.

Only days after the the Baddiel brothers released their anti-racism film The Y-Word, White Hart Lane fans, used to styling themselves the "Yid Army", raised the familar chant during last week's derby with Arsenal.

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War cost my family everything

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2011

One Sunday in March 1944, Éva Retkin was strolling with her father in Budapest when a friend hurried up to them.

"'Have you heard what happened?' he said. 'The Germans are here.' I can still hear his voice," she recalled. "It was so awful."

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Mr Hague clears his diary

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2011

I was about to tell you of frustration within the Board of Deputies that it still had not been granted a meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague two months after making the request for one.

The Board had become worried about British policy after the UK's UN envoy voiced hopes of seeing a Palestinian state by September.

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Where Israel shines on TV

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2011

A round of applause, please, for one television station that has been quietly showing Israel in a positive light.

Take a bow, shopping channel QVC. Whenever my wife switches it on - which is frequently - there seems to be an Israeli jewellery designer promoting their wares.

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Pesach in Corrie St

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2011

Reader Geoff Levene believes that we were right (and thus Howard Jacobson wrong) in thinking there have been no Jewish characters in Coronation Street. But he recalled that Reg Holdsworth and Curly Watts were once shown in the local store in front of a display of matzot.

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Celebrity shopping

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2011

Spotted among shoppers filling their unleavened trolleys at Kosher Kingdom in Golders Green last week was none other than master spoonbender Uri Geller.

I shouldn't be surprised if one or two of the horseradishes were left with strange curvatures.

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Shooting the royal couple

By Simon Rocker, April 21, 2011

When Kate Middleton walks down the aisle next week, David Coleman will be watching more intently than most. He will be in charge of directing live TV coverage of the ceremony for ITV and Sky News from the time guests file into the abbey.

A few days later the Stanmore Synagogue member will be on communal duty when he films the Chief Rabbi's Yom Hashoah service in Ilford.

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Charity Commission raps Chabad accounts

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

One of the community's leading religious charities, the Lubavitch Foundation, is more than five months behind in filing accounts with the Charity Commission.

The charity watchdog said that it had sent "numerous" reminders to the foundation whose latest accounts, for the year 2009, which have been overdue since the end of last October.

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Reprieve for Israel studies at SOAS

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

One of British Jewry's leading family charities, the Pears Foundation, has stepped in to safeguard the immediate future of Israel studies at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies.

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Museum trustees pledge to fight synagogue-disrepair writ

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

Trustees of an immigration museum housed in a disused synagogue have said they will vigorously contest a writ issued against them in the High Court.

The Spitalfields Centre for the Study of Minorities, located in the former Federation synagogue in Princelet Street, east London, is facing a demand to appoint new trustees to the charity.

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Britain's J-Street unveils as Yachad

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

An alternative Israel advocacy organisation, inspired by the American J Street, has finally launched.

Known as Yachad, the Hebrew for "together", it aspires to be a grassroots movement supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic state.

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Oxford's first Israel chair

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

Oxford University, I hear, is on the verge of appointing its first Professor of Israeli Studies - worthy of note because there is only one other chair in the subject in Britain and its incumbent is retiring in autumn.

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Netanyahu's golden feast

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

I can't say whether Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Prague last week was a diplomatic success, but at least he and his entourage dined well at a kosher banquet hosted by his Czech counterpart Petr Necas in the Golden Hall of the Lichtenstein Palace.

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Miliband's little cut?

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

Is Labour leader Ed Miliband, product of a strictly secular upbringing, starting to get religious? A Times picture caption said that he and his partner Justine Thornton had decided that they would not get married until after the "brith" of their second son Samuel. The nuptials are set for May. Better book them a chupah.

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Strictly simchah

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

BBC2's forthcoming documentary on marriage and matchmaking in Stamford Hill had the working title of My Big Hasidic Wedding. Not a title likely to appeal to local rabbinate who have been trying to encourage their flock to cut down on simchah expenses. My Little Hasidic Wedding, perhaps?

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Museum's saturday opening

By Simon Rocker, April 14, 2011

London's Jewish Museum is making a pitch for more punters - by opening on Saturdays from the end of May. Director Rickie Burman believes the move will improve its outreach to the wider world. "If we are not open on Saturdays, a lot of people who could benefit from learning about Jewish life will not be able to visit us," she said.

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The tale of the lead books

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2011

A few weeks I wrote about a cache of lead books from the Middle East that has been claimed as a significant archaeologist discovery.

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Not news when Jew sues Jews

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2011

In February last year, Walter Bader took part in Scotland's first Masorti service. A few weeks later, he lost his position as a burial officer with the Orthodox Glasgow Hebrew Burial Society.

The board denied that there was any connection between the two events, citing other reasons for his removal including "cost-effectiveness".

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Sephardim welcome women

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2011

Britain's oldest community, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, has become the first of the main Orthodox synagogue bodies in the UK to allow women on to its executive.

Members of the 350-year-old institution, which comprises four London synagogues, approved the change as part of a constitutional overhaul.

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