A Jew is a Jew?

A Jew is a Jew?

Moriah College. Photo: Nadine Saacks
Moriah College. Photo: Nadine Saacks

SINCE Moriah’s inception it has always been a Modern Orthodox school that accepts students based on the halachic ruling of the Sydney Beth Din.

For decades, that standard was in line with the expectations of many in the Sydney Jewish community and wasn’t a point of conflict.

But this week, after the revelation that a Moriah graduate won’t be able to send his own children to the school because he married a woman whose mother converted through Reform Judaism, those policies are being questioned by large sections of the community.

It’s a tough one, because there are arguments on both sides.

If a boy was accepted into Moriah in those circumstances he couldn’t be called up to read from the Torah and he couldn’t be counted in a minyan, because the Orthodox rabbis of the school do not consider him to be Jewish. Would he feel excluded? Is it fair to him?

Similarly, if a young girl were accepted and they met the love of their life, would Orthodox parents accept that their grandchildren would not be considered Jewish by most shules in Sydney?

You can put a case forward that Moriah is safeguarding the continuity of Judaism by ensuring that every student is considered halachically Jewish by all streams of Judaism.

But on the other hand, a Jew is a Jew.

When 11 people were murdered at a Conservative congregation in Pittsburgh recently we reacted as if our own had been killed.

Is anyone really suggesting our response would have been different if it were a Chabad or Modern Orthodox shule?

The Royal Sydney Golf Club in the heart of Rose Bay famously didn’t accept Jewish people as members for a long time, and there are still many Jews who won’t play golf as a result.

If Scotts College, Cranbrook, Ascham or any other large private school in the Eastern Suburbs refused entry to someone because they were Jewish the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies would be on the case and we, as a community, wouldn’t accept it.

So why is Moriah any different? This is a difficult topic to broach. For a long time, the Moriah policy has reflected the views of the majority of the Modern Orthodox Sydney Jewish community.

The question is, has the view changed?

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