The Lawyer: How will faith and religious practice be defined?

By Michelle Chance, July 2, 2009
Follow The JC on Twitter

Defining a faith

How will faith and religious practice be defined? And by whom? This issue is likely to lead to increasing division, given that Orthodox Jews do not accept that non-Orthodox Jews practise the faith properly.

Orthodox synagogues may no longer be able to refuse to marry couples who cannot prove their Jewish lineage. They may now have to marry anyone who proves that they practise the faith.

As for the existing conversion process: will it be necessary, or even lawful? If a gentile chooses to adopt Jewish religious practices, then under English law he would be deemed Jewish (certainly for the purposes of instituting a race discrimination claim).

There is, then, likely to be a dichotomy between those whom the state considers Jewish for the purposes of race discrimination and those whom Orthodox Jewry deem Jewish for the purposes of acceptance into the
community.

Michelle Chance is a senior associate specialising in employment and partnership law at Fox, and a former JFS pupil.

    Last updated: 3:26pm, August 27 2009