web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Fighting A British Court’s Evil Decree


On July 2 the UK Orthodox Jewish community was hit with a legal bombshell that has the potential, at its most extreme, to make organized Orthodox Jewish life in Britain all but impossible.

Jews’ Free School (universally referred to by its initials, JFS) is a Modern Orthodox secondary school under the authority of the chief rabbi. It is a school that prefers to take children from non-observant homes in order to draw them toward Judaism and strengthen their Jewish identity. The school’s Jewish and secular studies programs are excellent. It is because of the latter and sometimes despite the former that many non-observant parents send their children to the school.

Because JFS is what in America would be called a “public” school (it’s a “parochial” school that operates under the aegis of the state system, as do nearly all Church of England and Catholic schools), its admissions criteria involve giving first priority in admissions to children who are halachically Jewish, followed, if there are not enough Jewish children applying, by gentile children of Jewish descent and then gentiles with no Jewish forebears. But there are so many Jews currently enrolled at JFS that the school has had to turn away Jewish children due to lack of space.

A legal case was brought against JFS on behalf of a boy who was rejected for admission to the school because he is non-Jewish. His father is Jewish, his mother is not, though she did undergo a non-Orthodox conversion, which of course is not recognized by halacha.

The plaintiff lost in the high court, but an appeals-court verdict reversed the initial decision, declaring the boy had been racially discriminated against as an ethnic Jew. The judges ruled that halacha is merely theology – and is racist to boot, because it leads to discrimination against people the Torah considers non-Jewish but whom the judges consider Jews. Halacha, according to this ruling, cannot be used to determine who is a Jew.

In other words, the judges consider irrelevant to Judaism one of the most basic Jewish beliefs. Indeed, halacha was even compared to the racist doctrine of the Dutch Reformed Church in Apartheid South Africa. This in itself shows the intellectually and morally fatuous state of English “justice” if not its malevolence. A black person can never become white, but any gentile can choose to convert to Judaism and enter into the Jewish people – provided he or she does so by halachic means.

For the purposes of English law, one may be a Jew “ethnically” without regard to his or her religious practice or status. What the term “ethnic” actually means, in a legal sense, is vague, but seems somehow related to descent. If this is indeed the case, how much descent makes one an ethnic Jew? For example, what is the ethnicity of London mayor Boris Johnson, who has English, Russian, Turkish and Jewish forebears?

It is also unclear what the relationship is between Jewish ethnicity – as English law sees it – and the Jewish “faith.” Does one have to be Jewish ethnically to be of the Jewish religion? Would unconverted gentiles who practice Judaism or “do Jewish things” be considered Jewish? The court has said that Jews who do not practice Judaism are not of the Jewish faith but are Jews ethnically.

Needless to say, this is a legal battle that Christians and Muslims are also watching since it affects all religious groups and the nature and position of religion in the UK. Under this new legal principle, Christians and Muslims who do not practice their faith are not members of their faith communities. The vast majority of the English people are Anglican, yet since most are non-practicing, they are, according to the judges, not Anglican at all.

The ruling as it stands raises many questions about day-to-day Jewish life that need to be settled by the courts. Can a ketubah be used for determining any Jewish status? Can Orthodox synagogues use it as a criterion for membership? If halacha cannot be used to determine Jewish status in education, can it be used anywhere? Would batei din be forced to marry gentiles and issue ketubas to gentiles of Jewish descent? Could a non-Jew or a non-Orthodox Jew who knows the laws of shechita be denied a position as a shochet without it being deemed racist?

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Fighting A British Court’s Evil Decree”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Air Force  planes reportedly bombed Hezbollah targets deep inside Syria.
Israeli Air Force Reportedly Bombed Missiles Site Deep inside Syria
Latest Indepth Stories
israeli-american flags

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

New immigrants from USA and Canada arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

Keeping-Jerusalem

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

Ambassador Danny Ayalon

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.

More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.

“Texans share a lot of the same attitude as Israelis, that we say what we think and we think what we say, and that makes it much easier to communicate,” he says.

The fight against terror is a case in point…. The establishment of a collective forum for dialogue in the Persian Gulf region…is long overdue….

More Articles from Levi Sokolic

On July 2 the UK Orthodox Jewish community was hit with a legal bombshell that has the potential, at its most extreme, to make organized Orthodox Jewish life in Britain all but impossible.

Nearly every day I walk past the large new building in the heart of Jewish Golders Green being constructed for Jewish Care, a mainstream Anglo-Jewish charity. It always reminds me of the large Jewish Community Center the Conservative movement erected in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia in the early 1960s – that neighborhood then being one of the larger Jewish communities in the city. Within a few years the building was on the market because the area had rapidly changed from being nearly all Jewish to nearly all black. I always wonder if this new building is an omen of changes to come in England.

The heinous and cruel murders in Mumbai were merely the latest in a long line of such crimes against Jews perpetrated by Islamo-Nazis and abetted by their leftist supporters on the pretext of opposition to Israel – as if that were a legitimate reason to commit war crimes and racist mass murder.

It is naked, open, venomous, and violent to the point of being murderous.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/fighting-a-british-courts-evil-decree/2009/08/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: