United Synagogue keen for law change over JFS

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 25, 2010

United Synagogue president Simon Hochhauser this week stressed the need to push for legislative change following the Supreme Court ruling on Jewish school admissions.

During a lively debate with Manchester leaders, educationists and Orthodox and Reform shul members at Whitefield Hebrew Congregation, Mr Hochhauser outlined his concerns over the ruling, which prohibits schools from choosing pupils according to their parents' Jewish status.

He suggested that it could also have implications for synagogues and communal charities.

Mr Hochhauser was challenged by a Reform shul congregant on why he was canvassing cross-communal support to reverse a ruling favourable to the non-Orthodox.

"The way human rights legislation is moving, the application of the JFS ruling could widen," he replied. "Why is it that care homes can discriminate against ethnicity but schools can't? The argument would be that there is no logical reason."

The JFS case could impact on shuls and care homes

He had been invited to speak by Whitefield's rabbi Jonathan Guttentag "to clarify the current situation. I believe in bringing out the issue into public debate to create an appreciation towards lobbying for legislative change," Rabbi Guttentag said.

The Board of Deputies shelved plans to lobby immediately for legal change through an amendment to the Equality Bill, currently going through Parliament, after a failure to reach consensus among Orthodox and non-Orthodox synagogue bodies.

Last updated: 4:38pm, February 25 2010