Friday, May 29, 2015

British Education Officials Launch Investigation of Jewish Schools Over Women's Driving Ban

The Guardian reports today that Britain's Department of Education is launching an investigation into an order issued by the Jewish Hasidic Belz sect that operates two schools in North London. The sect's order bans women from driving their children to school-- saying (as reported in a second Guardian article) that women's driving violates "the traditional rules of modesty in our camp." The decision was made upon the advice of the Belzer spiritual leader in Israel. A letter to school parents said that beginning in August, children driven to school by their mothers would be turned away.  A special committee will consider requests for exceptions for medical and similar reasons. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (who is also minister for women and equalities) said:
This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people they are breaching the independent school standards. Where we are made aware of such breaches we will investigate and take any necessary action to address the situation.”
UPDATE: A June 4 report by JTA indicates that the schools have backed off.  The schools' CEO said that the letter had not been seen in advance by the schools' board and that "women have a choice about whether they want to drive or not, and our policy is to accept all children who are members of our community..."