Who do you think you are?

November 9, 2009 at 11:45 pm (Uncategorized)

There was a little article in the New York Times yesterday that caught my husband’s eye while he was at the coffee shop with our youngest child. (Me? I was at church with older two.)

Who is a Jew? Court Ruling in Britain Raises Question

It’s a great article which I hope you’ll read, but the nutshell version is as follows. An orthodox Jewish school in the UK which receives many more applications than it can place, rejected a boy’s application for admission because his mother converted in a “progressive” rather than an orthodox synagogue and was therefore “not Jewish.” The family sued, the lower court found in favor of the school but was reversed on appeal, and now the case is before the justices of the highest court in the UK, one of whom I’ve had lunch with, randomly, although I’m refraining (with great difficulty) from name-dropping.

I found this issue fascinating on so many levels: personally of course, it affected me because of my three “half Jewish, half Irish” children, as my oldest describes it. Sociologically or something, it raises all kinds of questions about what Judaism is. Is it really an ethnicity? just a religion? Would it be ok for a school to reject my kids because I hadn’t converted “the right way?” What’s the role for the government in moderating this kind of dispute? No answers tonight, I’m afraid. Just questions.

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