Not all Jews are happy with separationist trend;Letter

13th March 1998 at 00:00
I found Simon Rocker's generalisations on the feelings of British Jews breathtakingly subjective and offensive "Praying for a Jewish classroom" (TES, February 27).

He writes off two dissenting voices, both of whom are well respected members of the Jewish community. Both speak for many Jewish parents in Britain who are uneasy with the separationist trend.

I speak from personal knowledge. I am Jewish and have two children at local state schools. The growth in Jewish schools has had a profound effect on the remaining schools in the surrounding area which no longer reflect the proportion of Jewish children in the area.

Unfortunately, segregated schools create young people that have no first-hand knowledge of the varied and rich cultures in our country which in turn creates more fear, misunderstanding and mistrust between different ethnic and religious groups. The schools (and pupils) are also an easy target for anti-semites.

Mr Rocker's vision of most 11-year-olds graduating from Jewish primary schools fills me with despair. If parents are so desperate to preserve their culture and religion, sending their children to synagogue classes would not be a "burden" but something done with joy and pride.

The fact that many view it as a burden shows the shallow nature of their commitment.

As for the Chief Rabbi's "influentual" book, may I remind Mr Rocker that Jonathan Sacks does not speak for all British Jews, but only for the Orthodox (and only some of them). Neither he nor his views represent my sentiments or those of the many Reform and Liberal Jews in this country.

I hope that my children do retain their Jewish culture but if they do, it will be through the "discredited" (by whom?) means of synagogue classes and the home learning environment and not by shielding them from our multiracial society.


South Woodford London E18

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