New school rules ‘mockery of Jewish values’


By Simon Rocker
September 14, 2009
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Predictably, a fair amount of criticism has greeted the new entry rules that JFS and other secondary schools have been forced to adopt after the Court of Appeal ruling which said that they could no longer use the Jewish status of parents to determine admissions.
Take the Jewish Tribune columnist Ben Yitzchok who in the latest edition, condemns the “stupidity” of the new religious test introduced by JFS, which is based on synagogue attendance and other practice.
To stand a chance of entry, children have to score a minimum three qualifying points (attending synagogue over all the High Holy Days and going to cheder or Jewish primary for two years will get you over the threshold).
The new system is “a sheer and utter mockery of basic Jewish values which must be resisted by all means”, Ben Yitzchok thunders.
But whatever the drawbacks of the new rules – and they are a headache for synagogue administrators who must arrange for parents to obtain a new certificate of practice testifying to their children’s observance - surely some religious observance would be better than none, from the Tribune’s point of view.

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lesshaste

Thu, 09/17/2009 - 07:18

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Can any JC reading lawyer explain how the JFS ruling fails to be applicable to all the Christian state schools the other way round? If it is racial discrimination to discriminate on the grounds of the Jewishness of a child's parents to bar a student from entering a school then surely all the Christian state schools in the country are at least committing indirect racial discrimination by barring Jews from entry. Is it not obvious that a school entry rule that requires you to have been baptised or for your parents to take you to church regularly, for example, will disproportionately effect people who are Jewish which is now defined to be a race for these purposes?


skremo

Fri, 09/25/2009 - 15:13

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To lesshaste:

That's a false comparison. The schools admissions code bans all discrimination, but there is one loophole - discrimination on the basis of religious belief and practice. Christian schools all discriminate on this basis, usually it involves regular attendance at mass for at least two years - and a Jew fulfulling this requirement would be treated identically to any other applicant meeting the requirement. There is, however, no loophole allowing discrimination on the grounds of descent or ethnicity. Jewish schools used to give priority to someone with a Jewish mother, even if the child and/or the mother kept no religious precepts whatsoever. Christian schools have never given priority to children who never go to church but simply come from an "ethnically Christian background". Therefore they are not breaking the law.
As for the indirect discrimination claim, that clearly applies to every faith school in the land. JFS' new (lawful) arrangements would obviously fail that same test - because a non-Jewish child is much less likely than a Jewish one to be taken to shul over the High Holydays to get their certificate of religious practice signed.


skremo

Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:55

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In summary: Indirect discrimination on the basis of religious belief is lawful in the case of school admissions.

I hope the Appeal ruling is not overturned. But, if it is, I hope the Jewish authorities will look into the problems of adopted children. At present, born Jewish children can get into orthodox-run schools such as JFS, even if the family is not even remotely orthodox - but adopted children in the same family cannot. That is really wrong. It shames us.

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