North London's JFS, which was charged with discrimination two years ago for giving preference to ethnic Jewish children over their religious counterparts, has lost its case at the Supreme Court. In a close decision, nine justices ruled that, by refusing entry to the boy in question, whose father is Jewish but whose mother converted in a non-Orthodox synagogue and hence is not regarded as Jewish under Orthodox rules, the school had acted in a discriminatory fashion; however, Supreme Court President Lord Philips stressed that this did not mean the school was racist. The case, which boiled down to differences over whom can be considered Jewish in English law and religious doctrine, generated headlines internationally, with the New York Times covering it, among others. Jewish schools will no longer be able to use ethnicity as a criteria when accepting admissions, but some community leaders argue that it will be difficult to apply.
Last Updated 16 December 2009