Simon Rocker

Education minister takes back lessons from London

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

Israel's Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar concluded a short trip to the UK on an optimistic note after visiting JCoSS in East Barnet and the Independent Jewish Day School in Hendon.

He said he was surprised to learn that as many as two thirds of UK Jewish children now attended a Jewish day school.

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Masorti's £7m home comforts

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

The opening of London's newest synagogue building was celebrated in a musical ceremony on Sunday by hundreds of its members and their guests.

When the New North London Synagogue first talked of new premises 15 years ago, congregants were told they faced the prospect of having to raise £1 million.

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Reform to choose movement rabbi

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

The Reform movement is to appoint a rabbi to act as its official voice and maintain its public profile.

But leaders insist that the new post of movement rabbi - agreed by its board and its Assembly of Rabbis - is not an attempt to create a Progressive Chief Rabbi.

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Community chest now back on the agenda

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

Charity leaders are considering plans to set up a £5 million community chest to finance small organisations at risk in the tough economic climate, as well as to support solidarity events with Israel and respond to political crises.

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Academics may redefine antisemitism

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

The union which represents British academics has been accused of "hurting Jews" by proposing to reject a widely-used definition of antisemitism on the grounds that it stifles debate on Israel.

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Rothschild finds new home in dairy farm

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

A converted dairy farm will open next month as the new home of one of Europe's best-known philanthropic organisations, the Rothschild Foundation.

Windmill Hill is located on the estate of Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury Buckinghamshire, the house built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1877 to contain his art collection. It is now a National Trust treasure.

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Prosor, the prince of puns

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

Ron Prosor's penchant for puns will no doubt tax his translators at the United Nations when he takes up his new role there as Israel's envoy next month.

He was certainly quick with the quips at one of his final appearances as London ambassador, at the Bicom Israel advocacy conference on Sunday.

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Serenading the kibbutzniks

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

X Factor contestant Mary Byrne, from Dublin, was the guest of honour at an Israeli embassy reunion in London for kibbutz volunteers to mark the centenary of the collective movement.

She sang for guests, who were served their meals in a room mocked up as a kibbutz dining hall, and said that her year at Kibbutz Geva had "opened her mind to a world of peace".

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A brief encounter

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

Natan Sharansky, last of the speakers at the Israeli embassy's Yom Ha'atzmaut do in London on Monday, sensed the audience was getting restless. So the diminutive Jewish Agency chairman reassured them: "I promise to be very short".

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Don't say 'terrorist'

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

You can only marvel at the BBC's efforts to preserve neutrality. A recent TV news report, noting that the 2012 Olympics would mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes, said the attack had been carried out by Palestinian "paramilitaries".

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Second thoughts on peace?

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

The Palestinian diplomatic mission in London seems to be in two minds, judging from its website.

Its tourism section describes Palestine as comprising East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

But the interactive map (right) on its "Discover Palestine" page, decked out in the colours of the Palestinian flag, takes in all of pre-67 Israel.

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Jemima's goodwill mission

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2011

Jemima Khan found herself the centre of unwelcome attention last week after feeling forced to deny malicious rumours on Twitter. But she will be happier at publicity over her involvement in an event tonight.

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Council threat to Hackney schools

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

Two strictly Orthodox schools are facing action from Hackney Council, which says they are operating without the necessary planning permission.

The council is planning to prosecute Torah V'Yirah, a primary school for nearly 300 boys run by the Satmar Chasidic sect which opened two years ago.

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West Bank tours plan

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

Yachad, the new alternative advocacy group, is planning educational tours for youth group leaders to East Jerusalem and the West Bank as part of its programme to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The group says that "time is running out" for a two-state solution, which is "threatened" by terrorist violence and "undermined" by the building of Jewish settlements.

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Desecration at synagogue leads to fast

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

Members of a London synagogue observed a special fast on Monday after a burglary in which its Torah scrolls were dumped on the floor.

Thousands of pounds' worth of silver artefacts and scroll cases were stolen from Magen Avraham, a congregation of Aden Jews in Finchley, late last Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday.

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Why Yom Ha'atzmaut went sour for Mumbai rabbi dad

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

A seemingly bizarre controversy flared up over this year's ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to mark the start of Israel Independence Day.

Lubavitch Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg and his four-year-old grandson Moshe Holtzberg, who lost his parents in the terrorist attack on Mumbai's Chabad House in 2008, had been among those asked to light torches.

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The Grand

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

It's dance night at The Grand in Eastbourne, and some silver-haired couples are still getting their kicks on Route 66. Jiving to a live band, they roll back the years at this vintage five-star hotel, which has entertained visitors to the well-kept seaside town since 1878.

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A kippah cure for baldness

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

When your hair is rapidly disappearing and your head begins to resemble a desert, you confront an obvious problem: how do you clip on your kippah?

Well, Brooklyn artist Mark Svartz has found the answer; the hairmulka. A yarmulke attached to fronds of fake hair, it will happily sit atop the most denuded scalp.

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Diplomatic dynamos

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

You would probably think I was living in a parallel universe if I told you that Israel had won a "best delegation" prize at the United Nations.

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The wisdom of Solomon

By Simon Rocker, May 12, 2011

It's good to see Stacey Solomon carving out a TV career, now as co-host of ITV1 Saturday night show Sing If You Can.

She has also published her autobiography this week - at the tender age of 21. But its title, My Story So Far, is no great shakes. After her I'm A Celebrity exploits, why not something a bit more literary like Confessions of a Kangaroo Shmekel-Eater?

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