Jewish Free School Racist?

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by dauer, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    From the news page (via my RSS feed) Jewish school loses discrimination appeal : Interfaith .

    I've been following this case since the charges were first brought against JFS. I, as a Jew who doesn't hold to Orthodox halachah, have considered this a terribly misguided ruling by the British courts that sets a very bad precedent. As I see it, it applies a Christological understanding of what makes a religion to Judaism and denies the right of Jewish people to define for themselves what makes someone Jewish. I don't see what denying this student entry has to do with racism at all.

    It's more like if in the US citizenship was granted on a state level and some states were more stringent than others in granting it. Some states recognized citizenship from other states. Some states denied citizenship from other states. If a person became the citizen of a less stringent state and then sought some service from a state that did not consider them a citizen, we would not call that racism nor would I find it problematic that the state with more stringent requirements denied them that service (this is assuming that the service isn't related to the preservation of life or some other basic human right that applied in that state to non-citizens).

    I don't disapprove of their new policy for admissions ( JFS - Admissions ) but I don't think that as a private school they should be forced by the courts to accept it in place of their old one. I don't know if they can continue to appeal the ruling. If they can, I hope the appeal succeeds. If they can't, I hope this precedent doesn't ever come to effect US law.

    What are all of your thoughts?
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Seems to me a private religious school should be able to rule that folks have to be their religion to go...but that is deemed as prejudice...I don't get it.

    Of course nobody seems to attack the Chinese or Mexican Restaurants around here...seems they ain't so ethnically diverse....
     
  3. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    I think they should accept some Muslims and Christians too !! Maybe a few Buddhists, Taoists and Hindu's too !! :)

    How else will these children learn about diversity ? Interfaith ? :) The Jewish schools should take the lead on interfaith work.

    Why not accept some percentage, say 5% of what we might call "diverse" student population. Pick the best ones and admit them. This would change the dynamics in the lunchroom :) !!

    Just do the same thing for all the religious schools, then it will be fair !!

    I'll bet the liberatarians all agree with this :D !!
     
  4. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    I have no problem if a school chooses to do so. I do have a problem when it's legislated by the government that a private institution must do so because to do otherwise would be racist.
     
  5. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    Here's what I gather:

    The school rejected the application, because the mother was converted through a non-orthodox institution. Since the mother's conversion (not the child's choice) was the obstacle, the British appeals court interpreted this to be discrimination based upon ethnicity, although I think the school's concern actually was the assimilation of the child's home environment. Its a nice big school with good facilities, so I can understand why the mom wants her kids in there. The school wants her to be orthodox before she sends them. She wants to send them before or without becoming orthodox. From the school's perspective she's trying to change the school. From the state's perspective, the school is discriminating against her child on the basis of something the child cannot change.

    Two questions:
    Who funds the school? Does the court's judgment mean the school must allow children of all religious groups? Does the court's judgment effectively outlaw Jewish education?
     
  6. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    Dream,

    the issue is the kid, not the mother. According to Orthodox halachah the kid's not Jewish. It's not about the way the home's run. There's a possibility the kid still won't be able to get in, but because it's not for halachic reasons it's not racist.

    No, the issue was that they were acting according to their interpretation of halachah and admitting only those defined as Jews by those standards. The court doesn't accept that as a valid reason. So now (it's in the JFS -- Admissions link) they're basing who they let in on the level of practice that the kid observes. Level of practice is not a particularly Jewish way of describing whether or not someone's Jewish. It's being imposed and limiting the freedoms of a private Jewish school to self-determination.

    I don't know where they receive their funding from and I've tried to find that. I haven't read anything claiming that, because they get public funding, they're breaking the law. Rather, because they accept only those who are "legal citizens" of the Jewish nation, if you will, according to their standards, they're racist.
     
  7. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Dauer, this is an interesting case, indeed. I do not think schools should be allowed to base admission on race, religion or gender. They are a private institution, as Wil pointed out, as restaurants and other institutions are. Should it be allowed to only allow certain races, religions or genders into some resturants ? I do not think so.

    You can argue that it is a Jewish school, and if they let anyone in it will lose that sense (is that what you are arguing ?). So in that case they should allow some minimum percentage of diverse groups in.

    From what I have read, I would be amazed if their funds come from anywhere other than the student tuition. But that does not mean they should not have fair admission practices.
     
  8. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    That's a flawed analogy. Restaurants aren't religious institutions. And I don't have an issue with men's only or women's only restaurants or schools for that matter.

    It's more like the courts telling a synagogue that it must allow for non-Jewish aliyot, like the courts legislating against halachic definitions of who is and isn't eligible for an aliyah. The court's issue isn't that the school's making a religious decision. Their revised policy isn't a problem for the court because they see it as religious rather than racist. The problem is that they reject the notion that the halachic arguments justifying the school's decision are religious and not racist. They're attempting to define who is and isn't a Jew instead of leaving that for Jewish communities themselves. And as I understand their actual former policy, it's not that they rejected anyone who isn't Jewish according to their criteria. Rather they give priority to halachically Jewish individuals and receive more student applications than they can accommodate. The court has ruled that as breaking British race laws. Now:

    JFS - Admissions

    So you see this isn't quite an issue of the school saying that they must accept non-Jewish applicants. It's the courts saying that they can't discriminate based on halachah because halachic standards meet prohibited definitions of racism in the UK and so they must adopt a different religious standard in order to satisfy the courts.
     
  9. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    if its in the UK then the govt [education dept] will be involved in funding and presumably setting standards and laws concerning the running of 'faith based schools' which l suppose is what we are talking about; reminds me on an article l read recently on this thorny issue that needs to be re solved for intrafaith harmony, as other non orthodox ie more flexi! jews will be wanting to share in the wealth of facilities larger more organised and traditionally established [ie orthodox] will have, not least the best teachers [for 'teaching judaism']. but self determination does not mean assimilation [of even the child]:confused:
    Halakhah Think Tank (Beta)


    of course its to do with what you do, and where you came from [what mother you came out of:eek:] because it is written and decreed and it comes up against these issues, and not simply the attitude and aptitude of the child, which seems to be more greek than jewish:D

    that was a nice post Avi, were you tongue in cheek too?!

    stop press, just read the article, jonothon sacks is a wise man and will reflect and consult well.
     
  10. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    He can't get in primarily because the school's overcrowded and secondarily because he's not orthodoxishly Jewish. He's not orthodoxically Jewish because his mom's not, according to the Haaretz article. U.K. court rules Jewish school racially discriminatory - Haaretz - Israel News

    I agree with your opening opinion that its a reasonable exclusion for the school, but their problem is that the court is likely correct in its interpretation of British law. This whole law suit suggests that the UK does not consider members of Judaism as another nation living within the UK. The UK is grasping for sovereignty within the Jewish nation's claimed jurisdiction.
    In the USA, so far separation of religion and state is all about funding. As long as a school is not funded by the government, it teaches whatever it likes and also excludes students on the basis of religion. For a school of this size, the government conflict would likely come from Federal employment laws. I'm not sure if even a religious school could discriminate when hiring so many teachers. Schools do successfully discriminate in their employment, however I'm not sure if its officially Ok'd by the state or just overlooked.

    JFS could have just as much legal trouble as in the UK, but with different technicalities. The USA does not officially recognize any nation unless there is a treaty.
     
  11. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that's correct. He could have an Orthodox conversion without his mother though. It's not the mother that's the issue. It's the kid.

    The nation metaphor is just that. It's not like the is a territorial issue or about Jewish courts imposing their own penal code. It's about how the Jewish religion defines Jews. Similarly for when you say:

    Even if they don't recognize Judaism as a nation it's still a religion. In the case of JFS they've said that the religion's self-definition of membership isn't valid and imposed a foreign standard for admission to the school, that is, whether or not the child is Jewishly observant. That is the real issue. Previously the school didn't look at observance at all because that's not how whether or not one is Jewish is defined by Judaism.
     
  12. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Dauer, you have not responded to NA's comment about UK funding of "faith based schools". Does this new information alter your opinion ? It seems to me that it should.

    It seems like the opinion that you offered is more from the American perspective, we are ingrained to think about Separation of Church and State, don't you agree ??
     
  13. GlorytoGod

    GlorytoGod There is a River

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    It does sound racist to me, what if we all have segregated schools for whites, blacks, punjabi's, jews etc.

    What then ? would be like aparteid south africa

    I have find the whole Jewish thing confusing anyway, is it a race or a religion or both ?
     
  14. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    To tell the truth, I can't make sense of most of NA's posts. It's the way she phrases things. For some reason it doesn't make sense to me. But no, that doesn't change things for me. And no, I don't think my perspective is particularly American. People in the UK are upset about it too.


    More like Catholic schools, Jewish schools, Muslim schools etc. I don't see what's wrong with that at all.


    It's a religion. Jewish religious law defines a Jew as someone who either converts to Judaism or has a Jewish mother. Whether or not a conversion is considered valid is a religious issue. According to Orthodoxy the conversion was not valid and the kid wasn't a Jew. Asserting that religious belief or observance should determine whether or not someone can attend is forcing an outsider definition of Judaism onto the school, an outsider paradigm of what makes a religion.

    I would like to reiterate that their prior policy wasn't to turn away non-Jews, including this kid by their definition. It was to give priority to Jews for attendance. I don't know how why a religious school operating in that way would seem odd to anyone.
     
  15. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    I had forgotten that in the UK the government supports the "faith based" schools. That does put a different perspective on the situation for me.

    I makes me realize how insightful our founders were when the instituted Separation of Church and State. Here is a great example. Because the government is footing the bill, now they are dictating entrance requirements as well. This is the history of life in Europe. They still have so much to learn about democracy :D !!

    On the other hand, as I said earlier, I think there should be diversity represented in the school. It is unfortunate that the school did not recognize this themselves.
     
  16. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    I don't disagree with that. I think they'd be better off doing away with state-sponsored faith schools altogether and similarly wouldn't have objected if they decided that all faith schools couldn't judge students for admission based on any sort of religious measure whatsoever. Then it wouldn't be discriminating against Jewish ways of defining who is a Jew. It'd merely be limiting the role of religious identity, however that might be defined, in the admission of students to state-sponsored schools. As it stands I consider it a discriminatory ruling that doesn't seem to understand Judaism.
     
  17. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    Ok, now I'm beginning to see where you're coming from. Yes, it seems odd. Maybe the court is trying to legislate a little.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2009
  18. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    I actually agree with them :/

    To me a jew is a birthright. Not a choice. It's like a group of popeyes... I am what I am! :D different situation to say christian schools. It's a bloodline thing :/
     
  19. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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    What about converts to Judaism?
     
  20. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    Same thing.

    That is what this issue is about right? (lol! I didn't read it just the topic..) I assumed this is to do with the jewish school in the UK where the Ortho's said if you ain't got a jewish mama you ain't welcome?

    I know I am not a jew and I am a sometimes a bit meh, but I feel reading it and the history and culture and TRADITION!!! :D If you ain't born a jew you're not a real jew ;/ lol Maybe like a Quorn jew.
     

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