Simon Rocker

Ron: it was over the line

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

Frank Lampard's goal-that-never-was against Germany has been debated ad nauseam. But now the Chelsea and England playmaker is being used as a metaphor for the Middle East conflict.

Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor compared Lampard's disallowed effort to those people who fail to see that Israel's critics have "crossed the red line" in demonising the state. Perhaps we could do with goal-line technology in both cases.

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Achtung, Irving's on tour

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

Life as a jobbing Holocaust denier can be tough in a recession. So "historian" David Irving has come up with a cunning plan. How about guided tours of Hitler's Secret Headquarters?

Irving is proposing you join him this September for, "a week-long guided tour of Hitler's secret headquarters and other historic sites".

Participants will get the chance to gain a real insight into one of the world's most reviled and ridiculed extremists. Oh, and there will be plenty of stuff about Hitler too.

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Rabbi v Home Secretary

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

There was high excitement at the JC newsdesk this week when details of a court hearing was emailed to us. But the case of Rabbi v Secretary of State For the Home Department turned out to concern an application made by one Abdi Sharif Rabbi.

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Bieber's Korea move

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

Teenage pop sensation Justin Bieber has been calling on fans to vote for the country they would most like him to visit on his upcoming My World tour. After the votes were counted, the country in second place was Israel with 624,803 votes, beaten narrowly by… North Korea.

Hmm, either the
Democratic People's Republic is unexpect-edly full of Bieber fans, or voters were not treating the poll with the gravity it deserved.

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BB's Ben on his bum

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

The last ever Big Brother boasts the last ever Jewish contestant.

Thirty-year-old Ben Duncan is a journalist obsessed with the Middle East who yearns to be an Arab. Asked by a housemate what the word tuches meant, he replied, "it's Latin for bum".

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Why parents are on the warpath

By Simon Rocker, July 8, 2010

Getting your child into the right school can be a fraught business. Over the past few weeks, the JC has received a string of complaints from parents whose children have been denied a place at their local Jewish school.

Passions are running so high that one family whose child got into a school told me that the members of another family whose child was unsuccessful were not speaking to them.

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Lubavitch wins America's top rabbi slot

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The head of the Lubavitch movement Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky has been named America's most influential rabbi in Newsweek's top 50 list this year.
Despite having no Rebbe now for the better part of two decades, the movement has continued to flourished and its impact on Jewish life remains as strong as ever.

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Jewish schools can teach Zionism, says government

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The Department of Education has rejected objections from an Islamic campaign group to the teaching of Zionism in state-aided Jewish schools.

Ghulam Abbas, of the department's community cohesion unit, replied to the group, Engage: "We have no evidence to suggest the schools you highlight in your letter are teaching inappropriately or indoctrinating pupils."

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Top dayan answers conversion questions

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The London Beth Din's most senior judge has openly addressed one of the most sensitive areas of its work - conversion - in a public lecture.

Dayan Menachem Gelley spoke for nearly two hours, answering questions for half the time, as the concluding speaker in a series on conversion at the London School of Jewish Studies.

Explaining the Beth Din's policy, he said that every convert had to mirror the Israelites' original acceptance of the 613 commandments at the giving of the Torah at Sinai.

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Preview of Polish Jewish museum

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Warsaw's Museum of Polish Jewish history is not due to open until 2012, but a London audience enjoyed a sneak preview.

Kathy Jones of museum designers Event Communications led a virtual tour, using artist's images of the building, which is now under construction.

Her presentation formed part of an international conference on Jewish links with Warsaw at the Institute of Jewish Studies, attached to University College London's department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

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Reform launches review of its Israel policy

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The Reform movement has set up a working party to review its policy on Israel.

It would help give a "distinctive voice" on Israel in "challenging, difficult and possibly epoch-making times," movement head Rabbi Tony Bayfield told its annual meeting at the Sternberg Centre in London on Sunday.

The working party will be chaired by Reform vice-chair Jenny Pizer, who said Reform engagement with Israel was "greater than ever".

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Interview: Michael Meacher

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

While some of his fellow MPs were busy racking up expenses, Michael Meacher was preoccupied with astronomical figures of a different kind, such as the rate of expansion of the universe, or its temperature moments after the Big Bang.

The veteran left-winger, who entered the Commons 40 years ago last month, has written a book, whose title, boldly alluding to Darwin, proclaims its intellectual ambition. The product of 15 years' work on and off, it asks the question: is there a purpose to the universe or are we all here by chance?

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Reform's early kick off

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

The English soccer team may be cloven-hooved, but at least Reform leaders showed nimble feet. With the movement's annual meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon, right in the middle of England's World Cup game against Germany, they hastily brought forward the meeting, slashed the agenda and gave strict orders to end well before the start of the match.

After the English performance, many of those who dashed home to watch must have wondered whether it was worth the effort. But movement head Rabbi Tony Bayfield can draw some consolation: at least a West Ham player scored.

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Bad call for shul visitors

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Bar- and bat-mitzvahs may bring lots of people to shul but visitors still appear to struggle with Shabbat etiquette.

Security staff at one United Synagogue confiscated a staggering 45 mobile phones and two cameras at the door on a recent Saturday morning.

In another instance, the warden of a synagogue was asked by a visitor if his shul had Wi-Fi. But the biscuit must be taken by the man who managed to smuggle his mobile in to the service and was caught texting for a takeaway.

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Champion envoy

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

After her car was set upon by protesters during a visit to Manchester University, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador, Talya Lador-Fresher, may be glad her tour of duty is coming to an end here. But she can content herself with a job well done: Israel’s Foreign Ministry has just voted her its employee of the year for 2009.

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Game on at Chanucah

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Here's how to while away those midwinter nights later in the year: a new board game for those who devour doughnuts and latkes rather than mince pies.

Maccabees pits Judah and his band of brothers against the evil Seleucids as they try to gather enough oil to relight the menorah.

The Chanucah game is being previewed next Tuesday at the "Christmas in July" exhibition in London's Camden Centre.

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Vanessa’s shrinking feeling

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

Vanessa Feltz hopes finally to have beaten those unwanted pounds. The radio hostess revealed this week that, after various failed diets, she has already shed 16lb from more than 16 stone, thanks to her new gastric band. The device that she believes can convert her into a “model of abstinence” was fitted by a Dr Focquet of Zottegem in Belgium.

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Niche service

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

When my colleague Nick Herman asked Amazon to deliver an order to the JC, the online company gave him the following tracking number: YID54857.

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Government rebuffs Islamic group

By Simon Rocker, June 29, 2010

The Department of Education has rejected objections from an Islamic campaign group to the teaching of Zionism in state-aided Jewish schools.

Ghulam Abbas, of the department’s community cohesion unit, replied to the group, Engage: “We have no evidence to suggest the schools you highlight in your letter are teaching inappropriately or indoctrinating pupils.”

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David Cameron's Bubbemeises

By Simon Rocker, June 25, 2010

There's a special family connection between the Prime Minister and bubbemeises - old wives' tales.

David Cameron's 16th-century Jewish ancestor Elijah Levita was the author of the Bovo Bukh, a Yiddish version of the romances that were popular in Europe at the time. Bovo refers to the knightly hero of the story, the good Sir Bevis.

The Bovo Bukh later became known as the Bove-Mayse, the Tale of Sir Bevis - and hence bubbemeise (which is thus not derived, as often believed, from bubba).

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