The questions before the judges in Courtroom No. 1 of Britain’s Supreme Court were as ancient and as complex as Judaism itself.
Who is a Jew? And who gets to decide?
On the surface, the court was considering a straightforward challenge to the admissions policy of a Jewish high school in London. But the case, in which arguments concluded Oct. 30, has potential repercussions for thousands of other parochial schools across Britain. And in addressing issues at the heart of Jewish identity, it has exposed bitter divisions in Britain’s community of 300,000 or so Jews, pitting members of various Jewish denominations against one another.
“This is potentially the biggest case in the British Jewish community’s modern history,” said Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper here. “It speaks directly to the right of the state to intervene in how a religion operates.” [continued…]
Ilana has been living a double life in Israel. Though her first visit was as a Catholic, she ultimately decided to convert to Judaism, and following her conversion in Italy in 2006, she moved to Israel. Incredibly, despite the fact that the (Orthodox) Chief Rabbinate certifies her conversion, the civil organs of the State of Israel continue to deny her basic rights as a citizen.
Scandalously, Ilana lives without medical insurance, is unable to work, and has been waiting for more than two years for her case for citizenship to make it to the Supreme Court. In every other Jewish community in the world, Ilana is Jewish. Not here. This is because the Interior Ministry has taken it upon itself to review conversions that were performed worldwide in terms of its own bureaucratic criteria. [continued…]