Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Limmud: The JFS debate

The first public debate on the Supreme Court ruling that JFS broke the Race Relations Act has been held at the Limmud Conference.

    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.

    However, later in the debate he said: We remain committed to working with the Board, the Jewish Leadership Council and the United Synagogue to do the best for all Jews provided any one section does not find itself excluded.

    Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, spiritual leader of Masorti, answering a question about whether converts should have an organization of their own, said: "Even more sinister in this case is whoever controls the gates to conversion and to marriage holds power and that is what led us to the levels of the courts.

    The debate attracted more than 300 people, more than 10 per cent of the overall conference attendance at Warwick University.

    Also on the panel were Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board, Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and Clive Lawton, a co-founder of Limmud and former head teacher at Liverpool King David High School.

    One questioner asked why there was no representative from the United Synagogue. Panel organiser Leslie Michaels explained that one US rabbi had been asked but had declined.

    Mr Lawton, who said that the status of all Jewish children was known at the school he ran in Liverpool, derided a claim by Rabbi Rich that Liberal and Progressive Jews had suffered 50 years of discrimination by JFS.

    "I remember going to a meeting in 1980 with the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn and Rabbi Tony Bayfield to try to persuade a sceptical Progressive audience to create a new school. Most Progressive people 50 years ago thought Jewish schools had nothing to with them,” said Mr Lawton.

    Jon Benjamin said other communal organisations including care and youth organisations had expressed concern about whether the ruling held any implications for them. " We know of organisations in the community who have had funding streams shut down because a local council took a dim view of the fact that they were providing services just for Jewish clients ", he said.

    Mr Newmark supported him, saying: "Major community providers of welfare and youth services may no longer able to enjoy certain charitable status. Think what impact that could have in a time of credit crunch. These are not simple issues".

    He also warned that Jewish children from homes where observance was low might be discriminated against by the new test of faith, introduced after the Court of Appeal judgement in June, which required points for synagogue attendance, among other things.

    Mr Lawton and the two rabbis expressed dismay at the fact that the school and the community had become embroiled in such a situation and declared that it should not be allowed to happen again.

Special Reports

Dublin benefits from overseas aid

Barry Toberman

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dublin benefits from overseas aid
Uk News

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'

JC Reporter

Monday, December 5, 2016

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'
Uk News

UJS presidential candidate abused for pro-BDS s...

Daniel Sugarman

Thursday, December 1, 2016

UJS presidential candidate abused for pro-BDS s...
Uk News

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'

By Simon Rocker

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'
Uk News

Local MP blocks visit from David Irving's 'secret tour'

Rosa Doherty

Friday, December 2, 2016

Local MP blocks visit from David Irving's 'secret tour'
Uk News

CST urges Rudd to ban neo-Nazi group

Lee Harpin

Thursday, December 1, 2016

CST urges Rudd to ban neo-Nazi group
Uk News

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity

Daniel Sugarman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity
Uk News

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86

JC Reporter

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86
Uk News

Genetic testing charity plans screening rise

Rosa Doherty

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Genetic testing charity plans screening rise