Ortho­dox to get their own voice on schools

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

HEADS AND gov­er­nors from 40 Charedi pri­mary and sec­ondary schools in Eng­land are lay­ing the ground­work for a new or­gan­i­sa­tion to put the views of the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity to the gov­ern­ment.

They claim that the Board of Deputies failed to make it clear when meet­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials that it did not rep­re­sent the Charedi com­mu­nity.

A par­tic­u­lar griev­ance re­lates to the Board sign­ing up to gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives with which the Charedi com­mu­nity might not be in favour, such as a project that re­quires schools to or­gan­ise ex­change vis­its.

The group, led by three se­nior Gold­ers Green rab­bis and chaired by Rabbi Jonathan Gut­tentag from Manch­ester, met at Has­monean Pri­mary School in Hen­don last week. Af­ter­wards, one per­son present told the JC: “The pur­pose is to have a body that is able to speak on be­half of what are the ma­jor­ity of Jewish day schools in Eng­land and to co-op­er­ate with other Ortho­dox com­mu­nal ed­u­ca­tional bod­ies.

“There is a dis­tinct per­cep­tion that the Board does not point out specif­i­cally that it does not rep­re­sent the whole com­mu­nity.”

Board of Deputies’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Ben­jamin was quick to deny this.

“We have al­ways made clear those parts of the com­mu­nity for whom we speak,” he said.

“The Charedi com­mu­nity is not for­mally af­fil­i­ated to the Board. We do not pre­sume to speak for them, but we speak to them reg­u­larly. Equally, when we speak to gov­ern­ment we make it abun­dantly clear that a par­tic­u­lar sec­tion of the com­mu­nity has con­cerns that should be lis­tened to.”

He added: “In or­der to safe­guard the po­si­tion of faith schools, we have to play by the rules of the gov­ern­ment as set down by the gov­ern­ment. We have to show where faith schools can work in a con­text that is not in­su­lar and that our chil­dren un­der­stand the wider world in which they live.”

Mr Ben­jamin said that the Board worked closely with the Charedi com­mu­nity on sin­gle is­sues, for ex­am­ple when faith-school ad­mis­sions were threat­ened last year and when she­chi­tah came un­der at­tack two years ago. The com­mu­nity with­drew from the Board some years ago when the Re­form move­ment joined.

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