‘The fight is with intolerance, bigotry, lack of common sense’

For 47-year-old David Lightman, whose wife Kate is head of English at JFS, the judgment served only to strengthen his resolve to win justice for his own family.

“We are obviously very disappointed at the outcome, because it reinforces the clear discrimination and prejudice that we heard in this case. There is discrimination between people who are Jewish by choice and people who are Jewish by birth,” said Mr Lightman.

“Having said that, I absolve JFS of any responsibility whatsoever in this. My beef is with the Beth Din, a cabal of holier-than-thou individuals who, so far as my understanding of Judaism and all things Jewish is concerned, are bereft of understanding and compassion, among other things.

“I regard it as a total affront that they can turn around and say your wife’s conversion may be good enough for the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, but not good enough for us.

“The Beth Din is keen to portray this as a religious versus non-religious battle. But it’s nothing of the sort. My battle is not against Orthodox Jewry. I go to shul every week where I am the shammas. We revel in our Judaism; my son and daughter both teach in cheder; they go to Jewish youth clubs; we keep all the festivals, and a kosher home. There is Judaism in every facet of our lives because we love it. It is in every part of our existence.

“No, the battle is with bigotry and intolerance, lack of common sense and core Judaism.

“People from across the Jewish spectrum have publicly and privately given us their support and expressed their abhorrence at what’s going on. We have had messages of support from overseas, from Israel. People there can’t understand it. The non-Jewish world is utterly perplexed by this.

“What are the Chief Rabbi and the dayanim afraid of? Are we so populous that we can afford to turn people away? I don’t think so.

“We are private people who want to bring up our family as Jews. It is not pleasant to be at the heart of this controversy, to have opprobrium hurled at us by some people. I just want justice for my wife and my fellow Jews.”

    Last updated: 9:20am, July 10 2008