JFS

Limmud: The JFS debate

By Leon Symons, December 30, 2009

The first public debate on the Supreme Court ruling that JFS broke the Race Relations Act has been held at the Limmud Conference and showed that the gulf dividing Anglo-Jewry over the issue might have closed a fraction.

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, declared that his organisation would be implacably opposed to any attempt by the Board of Deputies to try to engineer changes to the governments proposed Equality Bill that would return JFSs admissions policy to what it was before the court saga.

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Analysis: No reason to think a consensus is at hand

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

When, two years ago, an 11-year-old boy was rejected by Europe’s largest Jewish school, no one would have foreseen the consequences: three court hearings costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, the interference of the secular authorities in the affairs of a religious minority, and the forced overhaul of entry polices which had served Jewish schools for decades.

But the roots of the JFS conflict lie outside this country: they are part of a global battle over the definition of who is a Jew which has been gradually heating up in the post-war years and may well become fiercer yet.

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Convert challenge to Chief after JFS

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

The Board of Deputies faces an uphill battle to secure non-Orthodox support for a change in the law in order to override last week’s Supreme Court judgment on Jewish school admissions.

The Liberal, Masorti and Reform movements have all indicated that their support for any change to the Equality Bill, currently going through Parliament, will be conditional on their converts being accepted into mainstream Orthodox schools.

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In defeat, JFS still won't learn

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 22, 2009

I was not surprised at the judgment of the Supreme Court that — in initially rejecting the application made on behalf of the child “M”— JFS and its religious authority, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, had contravened the 1976 Race Relations Act.

It has to be said at the outset that the advocacy of the counsel representing “M”, Dinah Rose QC, was brilliant. Calmly and methodically, Ms Rose demolished the disingenuous arguments put forward by Lord Pannick on behalf of JFS.

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King David schools to rely on Orthodox shul membership

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 22, 2009

Manchester’s King David schools will rely on membership to synagogues rather than Jewish practice as the test for its admissions policy following last week’s Supreme Court ruling on JFS.

King David chair of governors Joshua Rowe said as a school with an Orthodox ethos, it will give priority to children whose parents are members of an Orthodox synagogue, but parents will not have to prove they attend it.

“The mission is to keep it simple for parents and for the school. We want as many children to join the school in the situation we’re in after the ruling.”

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This ruling creates more problems than it resolves

By Joshua Rozenberg, December 17, 2009

The difficulty of the JFS case, said Lord Mance, one of the Supreme Court judges who dismissed the school’s appeal, “is that the word ‘Jewish’ may refer to a people, race or ethnic group and/or to membership of a religion”.

Lord Pannick QC, for JFS, tried to persuade the court that it was only the latter — and that its definition was a matter of Jewish law alone.

But the problem he faced was the Race Relations Act 1996. This bans discrimination not just on grounds of race but also on grounds of ethnic or national origins.

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My relief at the verdict for my son

By Father E, December 17, 2009

The father of the child at the centre of the JFS Supreme Court ruling who brought the original case against the school has spoken of his “relief” at this week’s decision.

The father, known as “E” for legal reasons, said: “I believe it’s important for people to know that the same Race Relations Act that provides such valued protection for Jews, as well as others, from ill-judged or misguided prejudices, also provides for the fair and equal treatment of all children within our educational system.

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It's the right decision for the community

By Lucian Hudson and Danny Rich, December 17, 2009

Liberal Judaism wholeheartedly welcomes the Supreme Court decision.

Although arguably legally complex, this issue is for Liberal Jews a simple one: Jewish identity is a matter of sincere commitment, and genuine identification. Liberal Judaism has, therefore, right from the outset, supported those families who have felt discriminated against by the Jewish Free School (JFS) Board of Governors.

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We will find the legislative remedy to this verdict

By Lord Jonathan Sacks, December 17, 2009

While disappointed that the Supreme Court, by the slimmest of majorities, was unable to find in favour of JFS, as a community we should be heartened by the fact that the court recognised the religious integrity of the school, the United Synagogue, the London Beth Din and our office.

The judges, without exception, were emphatic in denying that racism played any part in this case.

The most important outcome is a point made, one way or another, by eight of the nine judges, that there may be something wrong with race relations legislation as it stands.

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Both glad and angry

By David Lightman, December 17, 2009

After battling to get my daughter into JFS for over five years, we now have victory. While there is a part of me that feels a huge sense of relief, my overriding sensation is one of sorrow, sadness and anger.

First, because things should never have gone to court, let alone the highest in the land.

For the past five years we tried to talk to the Chief Rabbi, the Beth Din and the Office of the Chief Rabbi, only to be met with silence. We would have chosen a private conversation, but the OCR and Beth Din ensured this could never happen.

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