Pupils ‘face bullying and prejudice’

September 2, 2008

Tales of bullying and discrimination suffered by Jewish pupils at secular schools were recounted in Central London on Tuesday at the summer meeting of the Association of Jewish Sixth-Formers.

One sixth-former said he had been accused of killing Christ. Others spoke of fellow pupils' misunderstandings about Israel and the pressures Jews faced to assimilate - for example, to go out with schoolfriends on Friday evenings, or to eat at McDonald's.

Abigail Kay from Reading said she had been the victim of bullying at school when she was younger because she was "an outsider". She said: "AJ6 has given me so much more confidence. It has given me the opportunity to exercise my own creativity."

Also from Reading, Robert Sassoon said he had joined AJ6 "because I heard lots of good things from friends and wanted to meet like-minded people of my age".

South London 16-year-old Bruce Rothberg is AJ6's national chairman. He said there were only two or three Jewish pupils at his own school, where he had encountered "general ignorance about Judaism and very limited understanding of Israel".

The association could offer advice and a forum for members to discuss problems. It also organises gap years in Israel for members. Sam Barth, about to start a gap year, said he wanted "to learn to be a leader. Get to know my people and country, and come back a better person."

Last updated: 12:02pm, September 2 2008