Simon Rocker

Rothschild help for Jacob and sons paintings

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Paintings of Jacob and his Twelve Sons, linked to Jewish emancipation, are to remain in their historic home after a campaign to stop their sale.

The portraits by 17th century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran were brought to Durham by the philosemitic Bishop Richard George in 1756. They have hung in Auckland Castle, the bishop's official residence, ever since.

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Jacobson on Corrie Street

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

You have probably heard enough about the absence of ethnic minority characters from ITV detective series Midsomer Murders.

But it prompted Howard Jacobson in his weekend Indie column to wonder why there are no Jewish folk on Coronation Street.

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Recognition for rugelach

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

There may have been no Jews in Coronation Street but the joys of Yiddish pastry have finally come to the attention of the custodians of the nation's linguistic heritage, the Oxford English Dictionary.

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A tale of two Tals

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

The Tal Ben Haim who scored the only goal in Israel's World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Tuesday was not the Premier League defender who is now languishing on the sidelines at Portsmouth because the club cannot afford his wages.

He was another Tal Ben Haim, striker for Maccabi Petah Tikva. We forgive the Guardian for muddling the two players up.

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Equal pray for women

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

The classical Greek comedy Lysistrata is about women starting a sex strike to stop their husbands going to war. But could the idea be taken up here? A participant at Sunday's Harrow Limmud, who complained of restricted opportunities for women in Orthodox synagogues, put forward the view that if men wanted women to share their beds, they ought to share the pulpit, too.

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High five for human rights

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Last week we reported that four of the nine members of the new Commission on a Bill of Rights for Britain were Jewish.

Make that five. We mistakenly did not include the chairman of the panel, retired civil servant and Watford Synagogue member Sir Leigh Lewis.

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Review: I'm God, You're Not

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Lawrence Kushner
Jewish Lights, $21.99

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Are schools bad for shuls?

By Simon Rocker, March 29, 2011

The seemingly unstoppable rise in the number of Jewish schools is widely regarded as one of the most positive features of British Jewry.

But not everyone agrees. Here is a dissenting opinion from an unusual source – the United Synagogue.

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School for south London?

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

Promoters of a plan to set up a Jewish primary in south London have been encouraged by the initial response to a survey to gauge demand.

Kingston Liberal Synagogue's Ben Baginsky, who is co-chairman of the school group, said that most of the 100 responses received to date were positive. But a bigger sample was needed to assess the viability of the idea.

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More places offered at London schools

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

JFS and JCoSS have made fresh offers of places this week, bringing relief to at least 50 families waiting to get their children into a London Jewish secondary school.

Both schools were heavily oversubscribed when the initial offers were made earlier this month.

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Remembering Debbie Friedman

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

There is a memorial concert on Saturday night (March 26) for Debbie Friedman, the influential American Jewish singer who sadly died in January aged 59, shortly after her last appearance at the Limmud UK conference.

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Lottery boost for Holocaust education

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given a major boost to Holocaust education with a £475,000 grant to London's Wiener Library, the world's oldest archive on the Nazi era.

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Last attempt to restitute Holocaust survivors

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

The Israeli government has launched an international initative to help Holocaust survivors, or their heirs, claim compensation for assets taken from them in eastern Europe.

Project Heart, the Holocaust-Era Asset Restitution Task Force, has been set up in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, historically the main organisation involved in diaspora-Israel relations.

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Marks to ask: where are women in Anglo-Jewry?

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks is to chair a new commission to investigate why there are so few women in leadership roles in Anglo-Jewry.

She will head a panel of nine, to include the only two female members on the 29-strong Jewish Leadership Council: Manchester Jewish Rep Council president Lucille Cohen and Wizo chair Michele Vogel.

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US under scrutiny as rabbis go to law

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

A judge has expressed his "serious concerns" about the motives of the United Synagogue after the rabbi of Britain's largest Orthodox synagogue turned to the High Court to block what he believed is an attempt to oust him.

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Paxman's Gaza withdrawal

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

French author Bernard-Henri Levy out-jousted Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight this week. After BHL recalled how he had phoned his president Nicolas Sarkozy from the Libyan rebel city of Benghazi, he was asked by Paxman whether he had not thought similarly about intervention when Israel had "laid siege" to Gaza.

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A royal send-up at purim

By Simon Rocker, March 24, 2011

After our revelation last week that Prince William was to break a glass in order to add some multi-faith flavour to his wedding next month, his grandmother seems to have caught the inter-religious bug, too.

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No Purim whisky for Yeshivah boys

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

The Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Shraga Faivel Zimmerman, has banned yeshivah boys from drinking spirits on Purim.

He said that they only should drink wine in moderation on the festival.

In a public notice, Rabbi Zimmerman said the dangers of alcoholic consumption had been highlighted by life-threatening incidents in recent years.

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The Purim Horse Ban

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

I have a brief story in this week's paper about rabbis in Stamford Hill clamping down on over-the-top Purim celebrations this year.

They were worried about people hiring open top buses or horse and carriages.

Why the concern about horses?

Here's an explanation, courtesy of the If You Tickle Us blog:

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Young JNF is set for party season relaunch

By Simon Rocker, March 17, 2011

JNF is to relaunch its programme for young people with a Purim party in the West End of London on Saturday.

Other events planned by Young JNF, which will replace JNF Future, include a sponsored skydive to mark the JNF's 110th anniversary in May and a baby fair for young mothers in June.

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