Simon Rocker

Daniel in the bloggers' den

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

Indignant bloggers have been quick to pounce on remarks made at the recent J Street conference in Washington by one of the doveish lobby group's co-founders, Daniel Levy (right).

In a filmed discussion, he said that if Israel could only survive by the sword - rejected by its neighbours because "they hate us for what we are" - then "Israel really ain't a very good idea".

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The chief will go to church

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

The newly elected president of the Reform movement, Rabbi Tony Bayfield, took an active part for the first time in the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday, reciting a prayer he wrote for the occasion about the contribution of women.

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Israel, the new Vienna

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

At least someone likes Israel on Channel 4. Historian Niall Ferguson in his series Civilisation: is the West History? compared Israel to historic Vienna, a "fortified city on the frontier of Western civilisation". In 2008, he observed, Israel created 9,591 patents, compared to Iran's 50.

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Menorah's light dimmed

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

I had hoped to bring you more about the race-winning exploits of Menorah the horse.

But, alas, the 3/1 shot in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday could only muster a poor fifth.

Given the time of year, perhaps they should have renamed him Megillah.

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Spare our meat, Mr Wilders

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

Holland's Party for Freedom, led by the combative Geert Wilders, is among those backing a new bill which would effectively end shechitah there through compulsory stunning. Mr Wilders was once barred from Britain because of his views on Muslims - he has called for a ban on the Koran - although he was allowed in last year.

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In at Suburb

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue has voted overwhelmingly to endorse the appointment of Rabbi Dov Kaplan of Caesarea as its new senior rabbi.

According to recently introduced United Synagogue rules, new rabbis must secure the approval of at least 75 per cent of members who take part in a ballot.

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Don't give up hope on school places

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

Anxious parents whose children have failed to gain a place at Jewish secondary school have been advised not to give up hope as more places will become free in coming weeks.

Despite the rapid increase in Jewish secondary school places in London, a number of children were left without one after last week's first round of offers.

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Chief and final set for Rosh Hashanah

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is embarking on his last major literary project in office - a complete set of festival prayer books.

His Rosh Hashanah machzor, with a new English translation and commentary, is scheduled to be out in time for the New Year this September, followed by one for Yom Kippur in 2012.

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Libyan exile plan for UK's frozen assets

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

Aldo Habib has not seen the country of his birth since 1967, when his family left Libya in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.

But now he thinks that the British government should consider using some of the £1 billion of frozen assets belonging to the Gaddafi family in this country to compensate Libyan Jews for what they lost.

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Faith is good for business

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

Businesses could benefit by taking more account of the religious needs of their workers, according to a new paper by the Institute of Business Ethics.

It says that sensitivity to the religious practices and ethos of the workforce can improve morale and lead to higher retention of staff.

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Hayek to resist JLC's fees claim

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

JNF UK has hit back over claims that it left the Jewish Leadership Council last week owing thousands of pounds in subscription.

JLC chairman Vivian Wineman had accused the charity of owing more than £10,000 in membership fees, plus another £15,000 which it had failed to contribute to the community's anti-boycott campaign.

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The happiest man in America

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

If you want to be happy, take a cue from Alvin Wong of Hawaii.

According to a formula used by Gallup to measure wellbeing, the paragon of contentment would be a tallish Asian-American Jew who was in his 60s, married with children, living in Hawaii and earning more than £80,000 year.

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Elite company for Mr Blair

By Simon Rocker, March 10, 2011

The Israeli press has taken an interest in the hospitality apparently being shown to the Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair by local businesswoman Ofra Strauss. The glamorous divorcee chairs the Strauss group, Israel's second largest food manufacturer whose products include Elite chocolates.

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Lord Sacks on Royal Wedding guest list

By Simon Rocker, March 9, 2011

The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is to attend the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton which will take place shortly after Pesach.

His office confirmed this week that he had accepted an invitation to next month’s event.

Other guests will include Reform movement president Rabbi Tony Bayfield.

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Dishing up flavour of an Iraqi childhood

By Simon Rocker, March 3, 2011

Linda Dangoor's family left Baghdad when she was just 10. But she took the tastes of her childhood with her.

More than a half-century after going into exile, the London-based ceramicist has published Flavours of Babylon, a cookbook fondly recording the culinary traditions of one of the world's oldest Jewish communities.

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Rabbi Brawer quits Elstree for the workplace

By Simon Rocker, March 3, 2011

Rabbi Naftali Brawer has announced his resignation from Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue to take on a new public role.

The American-born minister, who will leave in August after four years with the congregation, is to lead a foundation dedicated to promoting spirituality at work.

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Pope insists Gospels are not antisemitic

By Simon Rocker, March 3, 2011

A new book by Pope Benedict XVI will make clear that the Gospels cannot be used to justify antisemitism or the Jews blamed collectively for the death of Jesus.

According to the Catholic Truth Society, which publishes Jesus of Nazareth- Holy Week next week, it will also explain why Catholics should not attempt the conversion of Jews.

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JNF quits leadership council after dispute

By Simon Rocker, March 3, 2011

One of the oldest Jewish charities, JNF UK, has been accused of "withdrawing from communal life" by deciding to quit the Jewish Leadership Council.

JNF chairman Samuel Hayek, writing in today's JC, said he had resigned his seat at the council because of the JLC's escalating costs and its executive's failure to listen to other members.

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The great sports conspiracy

By Simon Rocker, March 3, 2011

You can't fool the Iranians, who have rumbled that the 2012 Olympic Games is a cunning plan to promote the interests of Israel. Their delegation protested to the International Olympic Committee this week that the official logo for the London Olympiad spells the word "Zion".

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Make Dana our diplomat

By Simon Rocker, March 3, 2011

several British-born diplomats have been tipped to replace Ron Prosor as Israel's UK envoy, including Mark Sofer and Daniel Taub.

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