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24 May 2017 00:31 (South Africa)

Who is a Jew? Britain’s Supreme Court wrestles with issue of Biblical proportions

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

While the question in the Supreme Court was simple – who gets admitted to one religiously affiliated school – the decision will have repercussions for thousands of schools across the UK and has also exposed fissures in the UK’s Jewish community over Jewish identity and how it is defined. The case began when a religiously observant child, whose mother is a Jewish convert, applied to the Jewish Free School. The school gets more applicants than it can accept. Britain has almost 7,000 publicly funded religious schools and, under recent law, such schools can give preference to students in the school’s faith, dependent on demand. While this applicant would, by most standards, be Jewish, the school follows a stringent Orthodox definition. Since the mother converted in a progressive synagogue, not an Orthodox one, the school said, “sorry”. The family sued, lost the first time around, but won on appeal - the court arguing the very definition of Judaism used was discriminatory as it depended on a test of ethnicity not religion (admission being  dependent on the mother’s background), contravening the Race Relations Act. The school appealed and a ruling is expected soon. Channelling King Solomon. Read more: New York Times

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

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