Randy's Corner Deli Library

04 July 2008

Ruling due on school racism claim

What's this? Jews fighting about "Who is a Jew?" I can't believe it.rs

Ruling due on school racism claim
2 days ago

A High Court judge is due to rule whether a Jewish school racially discriminated against an 11-year-old boy.

The boy, identified in court only as "M", applied to attend the Jewish Free School but was declared "not an 'approved' Jew".

His father said he was "appalled" by the decision of the north west London school, which gains some of the best academic results in the country.

In a case with serious implications for other religious schools, his lawyers are asking Mr Justice Munby to declare the school's admissions policy was unlawfully based, in part, on "ethnic origins - rather than faith or religion".

Dinah Rose QC, representing M's family, told a previous hearing the boy's application was rejected by the over-subscribed state-maintained school, which gives preference to children whose "Jewish status" is confirmed by the United Synagogue (US).

A child's Jewish identity is inherited through the mother, but the US did not accept that M's mother was Jewish. She was born a Roman Catholic, but converted to Judaism before her son's birth, although not the Orthodox movement.

M's parents are now divorced and the boy lives with his father, with whom he is an active member of the local synagogue and of the Masorti, a "progressive traditional" Jewish movement. However, other children were given preference by the school as the US did not consider the boy to be Jewish, because his mother was not accepted as Jewish.

Ms Rose claimed that amounted to racial discrimination, as other children were given preference if their mothers were Jewish by birth, even if they were "committed atheists".

Ben Jaffrey, appearing for US, previously said there would be "very serious potential consequences" if M and his father win the case. He said it would affect not only the JFS but over 20 other schools and other Jewish organisations providing services in the community.

The British Humanist Association is supporting M's application for judicial review. The decision is to be handed down by Mr Munby, sitting at the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre.

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