Jews’ Free School
Case: R(E) v. The Governing Body of JFS  UKSC 15
Case Synopsis: On October 1, 2009, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom heard its first case as the newly configured highest judicial authority in Great Britain, R(E) v. The Governing Body of JFS (hereafter the JFS case). The case involved a dispute over the preferential admissions process at a popular Jewish school in London. On the most basic level the judges attempted to resolve a dispute involving three particularly difficult interrelated questions: (1) who is a Jew; (2) who gets to decide; and (3) does the orthodox Jewish practice of determining Jewish status by matrilineal descent violate the Race Relations Act of 1976? The Court instructed JFS to establish a new test that did not make determinations of Jewish identity based on ethnicity, but rather based on practice and belief. This case module originated in the work of Peter Danchin, Louis Blond, and Heather Miller Rubens.
Image of climbing wall, JFS
JUDGMENT: R (on the application of E) (Respondent) v Governing Body of JFS and the Admissions Appeal Panel of JFS (Appellants) and others R (on the application of E) (Respondent) v Governing Body of JFS and the Admissions Appeal Panel of JFS and others (United Synagogue) (Appellants), UK Supreme Court, Michaelmas Term, (2009) 15.
Heather Miller Rubens, “‘Something has Gone Wrong’: The JFS Case and Defining Jewish Identity in the Courtroom,” Maryland Journal of International Law 29, no. 1 (2014): 368-418.
Peter Danchin and Louis Blond, “Unlawful Religion? Modern Secular Power and the Legal Reasoning in the JFS Case,” Maryland Journal of International Law 29, no. 1 (2014): 419–480.
Christopher McCrudden, “Multiculturalism, Freedom of Religion, Equality, and the British Constitution: The JFS Case Considered,” International Journal of Constitutional Law 9, no. 1 (2011): 200–229.
Michael L. Satlow, Creating Judaism, History, Tradition, Practice (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 1-63.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, In My Father’s Court (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1991).