By Andrew Sanger
July 2, 2009
Schools in receipt of state funding should be open to all who require the type of education on offer. An Orthodox Jewish school should be defined by the type of education on offer - not the type of pupils who may attend.
In particular, it is iniquitous that at a Jewish school - unlike all other religion-based schools - belief, observance and religious practice are considered irrelevant. All that matters for entry to JFS is the mother's ethnicity as a Jew. She does not have to be practising Judaism, or even a member of the Jewish community at all. For that matter, she can be a Christian, so long as she is ethnically Jewish.
In other words, a child's entry to JFS is not based on the child's religion at all, but on the mother's race (as defined by the Race Relations Act). That may not offend the mind of some Jews, but it is offensive to English law. JFS is in England, and where there is a conflict between the two, it should be governed by English law, not Jewish law.
As an interesting aside, the BNP supports JFS in this case - see http://bnp.org.uk/tag/appeal-court/. That should certainly cause some reflection among those who are so loudly speaking up for the JFS' right to discriminate against sincere converts and others practising Judaism but whom the United Synagogue rules are "not Jewish".
Thank goodness for the Appeal Court ruling.