According to the Jewish press, synagogues in areas where Jewish Schools are over-subscribed have been ‘mobbed’ this Rosh Hashanah with families who are unfamiliar with the annual routine of davening, catching up on the gossip, sneaking round the back of the shul for a smoke, and feeding the kids sweets to keep them awake through the sermon.
In the past, these families have relied on the one Jewish law that everyone was familiar with – the ancient rule of matrilineal descent – to get their kids into Jewish Schools. Now, thanks to those ignorant/antisemitic/self-hating judges at the Appeal Court, the United Synagogue schools have decided that students will be selected on the basis of religious practice. That’s put the cat among the pigeons for a lot of parents who want their children to go to Jewish schools, not to reinforce their religious beliefs and practices but because they didn’t want them to mix with black/working class/poor/underachieving [delete as appropriate] students in the local comprehensive.
So their parents are dragging them off to services, and are asking the rabbis to certify that they have attended, in order to give them the points they require to be eligible for JFS and other United Synagogue schools.
And what are young people supposed to make of this pantomime? That religion and its institutions provide the sound moral foundations of a society based on truth and justice? No, as ever, the medium is the message, which is being transmitted loud and clear: the qualification for admission to a school run under the auspices of rabbis is hypocrisy. On reflection, that’s quite a useful lesson.
The Jewish Socialists’ Group is holding a meeting on Faith Schools, Minorities and the JFS Judgement at 7.30pm on Sunday 4th October, at the Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square London W1T 6AQ.
Simon Rocker of the Jewish Chronicle will talk about the JFS judgement and its implications for different elements within the Jewish community
Julia Bard of the Jewish Socialists’ Group will look at the effects of state funding of religious schools on minority communities. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.
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