By Michelle Chance, July 2, 2009
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.
By Jo Wagerman, July 2, 2009
A political agenda behind the judgement?
It is startling that for the first time in England a judge, be he Christian, secular or anything else, believes he can impose his interpretation of Jewish identity on the community. This judgement reflects the confusion between race and religion that bedevils much of English life.
By Danny Rich, July 2, 2009
Liberal Judaism has long and consistently argued that Judaism is primarily transmitted culturally and through example and influence. That transmission, which frequently happens to children in families, but may happen to adults too, is perhaps best described as one of Jewish education in its broadest sense.
This education equips the Jew with a sense of identity and commitment which is forged by an encounter with Jewish beliefs, values, attitudes and ideals, and an immersion into Jewish practice and Jewish mores.
By Lord Jonathan Sacks, July 2, 2009
The learned judges who ruled last week that the admission procedures of the JFS were in breach of the Race Relations Act clearly did not wish to claim that Judaism is racist. Yet, by one of the great ironies of our time, a law, intended to protect Jews from racism, has now been used against them.
Since the days of Abraham and Moses, Jews have been commanded to educate their children and thus hand on their faith across the generations. We are the people who predicated our survival on education, the first in history to create a universal system of schooling.
By Tony Kushner, July 2, 2009
Since the 1930s, Jews in Britain have sought some protection from the state against discrimination and libel.
Such moves reflected the rise of political antisemitism and wider social prejudice.
In the 1950s, with the growth of new Commonwealth immigration, there was a revival in support for anti-racist measures, but politicians and the state rejected them as being against the laissez-faire approach then adopted to “race relations”.
July 2, 2009
The parent who sparked the case speaks out for the first time
We are delighted and relieved that this most unpleasant wrong has been corrected by the three Appeal Court judges, and that justice is starting to be done.
It is a great shame that my son and I had to pursue this case through the courts. We would have much preferred to reach a fair settlement with the school to revise its policy for the benefit of the whole Jewish community. Unfortunately, that has not been possible.
By Simon Rocker, July 2, 2009
In 2007, an 11-year-old boy was refused a place at JFS because his mother was a non-Orthodox convert and, therefore, not Jewish according to the Chief Rabbi’s Office.
Schools are permitted to give preference to children on the basis of religion, but not of ethnic origin.
When the boy’s father went to the High Court last year, the judge said that JFS had made its decision on religious grounds.
But the Court of Appeal ruled that deciding entry on the basis of a parent’s Jewish status involved ethnicity and so was unlawful.
By Jessica Elgot, June 30, 2009
The Court of Appeal ruling that JFS was in breach of the Race Relations Act for its admission code has stirred deep feeling.
It was a landmark decision which could change the course of Jewish education in Britain.
And when our Judaism editor, Simon Rocker wrote a blog on the subject, your comments came thick and fast.
Here’s a sample:
It's breathtaking. Cannot a religious institution decide for itself who qualifies as a member of that religion?