Separation Anxiety: English High Court Rules Jewish School Violated Anti-Discrimination Laws By Excluding Students on Basis of Religion

There is an interesting ruling out of England’s highest court, which found that a Jewish school was guilty of race discrimination by refusing to admit pupils who are not considered ethnically Jewish. The ruling is the latest example of the collision course between anti-discrimination laws and free exercise of religion (and free association). For a prior paper on that conflict, click here.

We previously followed a related case, here.

The rule was established by Lord Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, who recently blamed secularism for the decline and potential fall of Western Civilization, here. He insists that only children with Jewish mothers (recognized in Orthodox synagogues) are truly Jewish.

In a close vote, the court ruled that the Jewish Free School (JFS) in London violated the law when it refused to admit a Jewish man’s son because his wife was not viewed as Jewish under the rules established by the Chief Rabbi.

Supreme Court President Lord Phillips held: “The majority of the court has concluded that the JFS admission policy does discriminate on the grounds of ethnic origin and is, in consequence, unlawful.” However, all religions are at base somewhat exclusionary and, yes, discriminatory. It is based on faith and should, in my view, be protected as part of free exercise of religion.

The 12-year-old boy’s mother converted to Judaism at a progressive synagogue.

Interestingly, the parents of children at the JFS could be atheists, and practising Christians, were allowed to attend the school as long as their mothers are considered Jewish.

For the full story, click here.

9 thoughts on “Separation Anxiety: English High Court Rules Jewish School Violated Anti-Discrimination Laws By Excluding Students on Basis of Religion”

  1. Another thought. You didn’t have to have Jewish lineage to become part of the Jewish community (according to the old testament).

    So it is odd that these people would make such a big deal about genealogy.

  2. A religion is not an ethnicity. Neither you nor I was born a “Christian,” a “Jew,” or “Muslim.” Religion is learned behavior, nothing more and very much less.

  3. Racism and bigotry are just fine in a private school. Bigots and racists have the right to free association just like they have the right to be ridiculed as primitive assholes.

    But with those “values” you just can’t call those schools. School is about learning analytical skills and learning to keep an open mind so you don’t miss anything you might not be expecting. But when you teach exclusion and intolerance?

    You call them either an “indoctrination camp” or a “madrassa”.

    But it’s sure as Hell not a school.

    It’s an ideological brainwashing camp and babysitting service.

  4. DavidG: It’s not always about the religion. Private religious schools do not have to foll the same requirements as public school when it comes to getting rid of a student. This allow a religious school to construct and maintain a homogeneous student group that has no disruptions and isn’t impacted by teachers having to spend time with students that are not as fast on the uptake. The private school system is allowed to cherry-pick its student population to an extent that the public school system is not.
    Subsidizing private schools and allowing students to be home schooled IMO distorts and harms the public school system by making it the school system of last resort and one with an inherently skewed pupil base. They also siphon money out of the public school system and tax base because religious schools are, in the main, tax exempt.

  5. The students who were refused entry to the Jewish school should consider that they had a very lucky escape.

    Who in their right mind would want to associate with a bunch of religious crazies?

  6. Britain like America subsidizes ‘public’ schools (actually private schools) including religious schools. As long as any private school receives a subsidy directly or indirectly from the state it is entirely appropriate that they comply with Federal laws regarding discrimination weather in the U S or Britain. From the linked article it appears that religious schools can have faith-based criteria for entrance but the nature of criteria is an issue.

  7. I’m for freedom of association. This is a private school and they should be able to make up their own rules (no matter how odious) as long as no one suffers harm.

    And no one does.

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