JFS

Who is a Jew? The debate rages

By Simon Rocker, July 9, 2009

Angry parents whose children are ineligible for Orthodox schools have spoken out, reigniting the debate over who is a Jew.

David Gryn, son of the late Reform leader, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, described the exclusion of children of Progressive converts from schools as an “evil”.

Another parent, who wished to be known as Karen, said that she was the daughter of a Reform convert and had attended JFS herself, but her son has been denied the chance. She said that such children were being treated “like someone with an infectious disease that no-one wants to go near”.

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JFS ruling leaves schools in 'chaos'

By Simon Rocker, July 9, 2009

The Court of Appeal’s ruling that it is unlawful to admit children on the basis of a parent’s Jewish status “has thrown our admissions policy into chaos”, according to Jonathan Arkush, senior Vice-President of the Board of Deputies.

He told a meeting for Jewish schools on Wednesday night that there will be a “flood of admissions appeals”.

With the court order on how the judgment will apply not due out until today, schools have been left in the dark over when they will have to introduce new rules and how those places already allocated for this September will be affected.

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JFS: Tell us your story

By Jessica Elgot, July 6, 2009

Did you go to JFS in the seventies - before regulations were changed regarding pupils' Jewish status?

If so, we want to hear from you. Perhaps you were eligible to attend the school but your children today might not be.

Contact us and tell us your story on editorial@thejc.com

The debate has continued on the JC's pages, on the web and in your letters, and here are some of your early reactions.

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Swine flu suspected at Jewish schools

By Jessica Elgot, July 3, 2009

Two London Jewish schools have suspected cases of swine flu.

A boy at JFS whose sister was diagnosed with the virus last week is being tested for the virus but the results of the test have not been disclosed.

Kerem House Nursery in Hampstead Garden Suburb has also had a swine flu scare when a number of staff members were taken ill and the school has been closed since Monday until reopening yesterday.

JFS said the school "is taking and following the regular advice from both the local authority and the area health authority".

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Father who brought JFS case speaks out

July 2, 2009

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.

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JFS: What JC readers think

July 2, 2009
Benji Sassoon
Broughton Park, Manchester
"I think if someone is not halachically Jewish and is in a school where everyone else is, then they could be discriminated against. Why would they want to be there? I don’t think the courts should be involved at all."
Howard Isenberg
Swiss Cottage

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

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.

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The Teacher: Is there a political agenda behind the judgement?

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.

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Liberal Judaism has sought to build a policy of inclusion

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.

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A bad ruling at a bad time: To confuse religion and race is a mistake.

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.

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