MOMS BANNED FROM SCHOOL RUN: The Hasidic Jewish sect in Stamford Hill (above), London, has come under fire because women are not allowed to to the 'school run'. Image: Wikipedia
LONDON, England - Schools run by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in London could face an investigation after leaders of the group warned in a letter that women members were banned from driving their children to the premises.
The letter said women drivers were "contrary to the rules of religious modesty" for the Belz community and said children driven to school by their mothers would be barred once classes resumed in August 2015 after the northern summer holiday.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on Friday (May 29) called the ban "completely unacceptable in modern Britain". The community responded by saying it was self-imposed and fell under religious freedom rights.
LACK OF RESPECT
Morgan said: "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."
The Hasidic community was founded in Belz, Ukraine, in the 19th century and comprises 10 000 families worldwide, mainly in Canada and the US.
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In Britain, there are around 400 families living in the north London neighbourhood of Stamford Hill and members run two schools with hundreds of children.
Belz member Yanky Eljan defended the ban: "The Belz community has certain stringencies that we take upon ourselves. If I sent my son to Eton school, I'm sure they've got lots of rules, and I'd have to abide them.
"There's no comparison to Saudi Arabia - women can be flogged in Saudi Arabia, there's nothing like that.
"We just want to be left in peace".
GROUP NOT OPPRESSING WOMEN
Fellow Belz member Judith Stein denied that the group oppressed women and accused the Jewish Chronicle, which first published the letter, of being biased. She wrote in a blog: "I don't feel hard done by, I do not feel degraded, I do not feel oppressed. I live my life in this way because I choose to.
"Women are sheltered and protected not because they are browbeaten and forced to remain locked indoors but rather because they are considered as precious jewels, a diamond, which needs to be protected at all costs."
Dina Brawer, the UK ambassador for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, told the Jewish Chronicle that the "draconian ban" was about "power and control of men over women".
Brawer said:"In this sense it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia. That it masquerades as a halachic (Jewish religious law) imperative is shameful and disturbing."
Wheels24 asks: Should this community be allowed to curb females from driving? Or is it completely sexist and backward? Readers,
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