So grateful to Appeal Court for JFS ruling

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 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.



Fri, 07/03/2009 - 09:07

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This is just the type of naive and trivial comment that has led to the growth in liberal and progressive ideas in the UK Jewish Community at the expense and dilution of Central Orthodox ideals, ultimately leading to greater assimilation, decline in Jewish marriage and overall community numbers. What is the point of a Jewish school if not to educate Jewish children? You are either Jewish or you are not, traditionally the acid test of being Jewish under Halacha ie Jewish Law is whether the child has a Jewish mother. If not, the child is not Jewish, it really is that simple. The Chief Rabbi is right and must be supported in a concerted campaign so that the Law Lords overturn this ridiculous ruling.

Andrew Sanger

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 12:20

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Unfortunately, Jon_i_Cohen does not understand the issues here and believes that halacha is simple and that schools admissions criteria are also simple.

Firtly, in English law a school should not be allowed to admit children solely on the basis of their ethnicity, whetever halacha says about it; the Appeal Court has now confirmed this.

Secondly, the halacha Jon_i_Cohen quotes is not a cut-and-dried thing; it is subject to interpretation and Jon_i_Cohen has forgotten to mention that sincere converts are also Jews.

Thirdly, the children whose parents brought this case actually are Jewish, are shul members and in at least one of instances the mother is an observant Orthodox convert.

Fourthly, another key issue in this case is the right of a foundation school to determine its own entry criteria; JFS believes that as it is a United Synagogue school it should have the right to set its own criteria without any interference; but the same would therefore have to apply to a school that admitted, say, only children with Scottish grandfathers - and anyone can see that that would be wrong.

Fifthly, we are talking here about a state-funded school; perhaps if Jon_i_Cohen and others want a school that excludes children people on the grounds of ethnicity, they should fund a private school, paid for by parents of children who attend it, rather than funded mainly by parents whose children are not allowed to attend it.

Sixthly, hopefully no amount of 'campaigning' on this or any other issue would divert British judges and law lords from interpreting English law impartially.

Lord Reith

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 12:34

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The state should not be paying for faith schools. Why should people pay for schools they can't send their children to? If people want to indoctrinate their kids in faith schools and dogma, let them pay for it themselves.


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