Accord urges mainstream Jewish voices to defend the promotion of equality and integration within faith schools

July 5, 2018

A mainstream synagogue has hosted a prayer meeting against the imposition of the teaching of “British values” in schools. The meeting took place on Tuesday (July 3rd) at the Kinloss Synagogue, otherwise known as the Finchley United Synagogue. A flyer for the men only event billed the meeting as “a call to pray for the removal of the education decree which prevents the education of their children in the traditional way”.

The meeting comes at a time of concerted efforts by some strictly Orthodox Jewish community members against recent and unfavourable Ofsted inspections of strictly Orthodox schools. The inspections have begun to take the promotion of equality and integration much more seriously. Accord has urged mainstream Jewish voices to publicly support all schools in promoting these goals.

President of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said “It is very puzzling that a mainstream Orthodox synagogue – Kinloss – should be hosting a gathering that opposes Ofsted’s insistence that all schools should adhere to British Values, including equal access to education for girls, recognition of scientific knowledge, safeguarding of sexual orientation and teaching the basics of human reproduction. Mainstream Jews should be encouraging the ultra-Orthodox to engage with the rest of society, not reinforce their attempts to isolate children in their care from it.”

Ofsted’s latest report into the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School was published last week. The school, which is highly valued within the Charedi Jewish community, was downgraded as ‘inadequate’. Ofsted’s report found the widespread “redaction of texts and information, and a narrow curriculum, [which] restrict pupils’ knowledge and prevent them from learning about themselves, others and the world around them.” Helpline numbers were reacted and pupils deliberately offered limiting careers advice.
A flyer for the prayer meeting can be found here. The Hebrew and English texts are not direct translations of one another – the Hebrew text can be loosely translated as advertising “a call to pray for the removal of the education decree which prevents the education of their children in the traditional way.”
All schools in England have a duty to ‘encourage pupils to respect the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs’.

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