Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Government aid could require Jewish schools to admit non-Jews

A Jerusalem Post article reports that the British government is considering instituting a requirement that religious schools that receive public funding reserve some of their spaces for children from other religions.

The major governmental lobbying effort, mostly unsuccessful, of Orthodox institutions in the US over the past 40 years has been to obtain government aid for our day schools. This situation in Britain shows that there would be a potential downside if such efforts ever succeed. There is absolutely nothing that would prevent a government agency from attaching strings to aid in the US that would require Jewish schools here to accept non-Jews, probably on an equal access basis rather than with a quota. This is an issue that does not affect Christians and Muslims because they WANT to teach non-Christians and non-Muslims about their religion in order to get people to convert. Judaism, however, does not actively seek converts and in fact sets limits on teaching torah to non-Jews. This is a serious issue and I don't understand why it has not received more attention; maybe we are just resigned to the fact that we will never get such aid in the first place?

UPDATE: Haaretz reports that the British government approved this proposal. A Haredi principal, Rabbi Abraham Pinter, says he will drop government funding rather than accept the government's mandate. Interestingly, he says that his school is a an example "successful inclusion of the Haredi community in British society", which shows that not all haredim are isolationist (which I knew already).

FURTHER UPDATE: The British government has reversed itself and dropped the plan, but the debate isn't over yet. Details from the BBC.

9 Comments:

Blogger Nephtuli said...

Obviously the government will be allowed to attach strings to their money, but the Orthodox establishment will be in no worse position. If the government makes demands that go against the school's position they can simply refuse to accept government funds. I don't see the big deal.

10/18/2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Basically what Nephtuli said, but with one point (that perhaps Charlie was making?): Orthodox Jewish schools *must* become as unreliant on government money as possible before such a thing happens.

Honestly, the law seems silly to begin with - what religious parent would want their kid to go to the school of another religion? I assume this couldn't be a 'forced' situation...

Side Q: Did you guys get my email like a week ago?!

10/18/2006 3:03 PM  
Blogger Nephtuli said...

Oh yeah Ezzie I was supposed to email you about that.

10/18/2006 11:04 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

money money money money....it seems to win all the time...

10/19/2006 8:41 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'what religious parent would want their kid to go to the school of another religion?'

A lot of Protestants send their kids to Catholic schools (who are happy to educate them -- and accept their tuition). Bill Clinton is probably the best know example.

10/19/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'Orthodox Jewish schools *must* become as unreliant on government money as possible before such a thing happens.'

If we are unreliant on government money, why would we need vouchers?

10/19/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

As of now, we're not reliant. Vouchers are fair and smart and will help schools get on their feet. But the objective can still be to not need them at all, can't it?

10/19/2006 9:25 PM  
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