U.K. Jewish School Appeals Racial Discrimination Ruling

Court deemed Jews' Free School violated law by denying child admission because his mother was not Jewish.

A leading Jewish school in Britain asked the state's Supreme Court on Tuesday to overturn a ruling that said it racially discriminated against a boy when it refused to accept him as a pupil because it did not recognize his mother as Jewish.

In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that London's JFS, or Jews' Free School, racially discriminated against a 13-year-old boy identified as M. His father is Jewish by birth, but his mother converted at a progressive synagogue not recognized by Orthodox Judaism.

The Court of Appeal ruled that because Jews are defined as an ethnic group in British law, denying a child admission because his mother is not Jewish constituted racial discrimination.

The school's lawyer, David Pannick, said the dispute was about religious law, not race. He said M would be regarded as Jewish by Reform, Masorti or Liberal Judaism, but not by Orthodox Jews.

Our case is that the refusal of the place to M was not an act of race discrimination, Pannick said.

Pannick said M was rejected because and only because of the religious criteria applied by the Chief Rabbi as to who is Jewish.

The hearing is scheduled to last three days.