Discrimination and Identity in London: The Jewish Free School Case

The facts of the case are as simple as the underlying legal, religious, and cultural issues are complex. The Jewish Free School, founded in 1732, is Europe’s largest Jewish secondary school and one of the best schools in London. Moreover, as a state-funded school, it is literally free. As a matter of policy, JFS gives preference to Jews in its admissions decisions. Since the number of Jewish applications consistently exceeds the places available, non-Jews are, in effect, excluded. No one contests the right of JFS to do this. By law, Catholic schools can give preference to Catholics; Muslim schools to Muslims, and so on. The law also allows such schools to determine eligibility by reference to religious “membership or practice.” But there is no exemption for discrimination on grounds of race.

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About the Author

J. H. H. Weiler is University Professor as well as holder of the European Union Jean Monnet Chair at New York University School of Law, and Co-Director of the Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization.


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