Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Professor Ellen Wertheimer at Villanova Law School shares these thoughts in response to our recent posts on the UK decision holding that a Jewish school could not apply Orthodox rabbinical standards as to who is Jew in its admissions policies:
I want to caution those on Mirror of Justice against over-reading the decision. As I understand the case, the mother of the student at issue had in fact converted to Judaism in a ceremony that was acceptable to Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative Judaism. It was not an Orthodox conversion, which meant that the Orthodox branch of Judaism did not view her as Jewish.
My father, as it happens, was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. For him, the idea that Jews were a race was utterly repellent as having been the basis Hitler used for the genocide that he planned and carried out. At least some of the original founders of Israel agreed with this. When asked, "who is a Jew,?" the response was "Him that says, is."
In any event, the opinion rejects any principle that would base religious identity on heredity, focusing instead on belief and action.