Below is some helpful information to aid parents and carers wishing to apply to Jewish schools for their children. For more information, please contact the schools directly. Details can be found in the schools listing.
1. A decision of the Supreme Court has forced all Jewish schools to revise their admission arrangements. What does the Supreme Court Judgment mean in practice?
The Supreme Court held that orthodox Jewish schools can no longer give priority to halachically Jewish (born of a Jewish mother) children.
The School Admissions Code allows the religious authority of schools with a religious character (sometimes called faith schools) to 'provide guidance for the admission authorities of schools of their faith that sets out what objective processes and criteria may be used to establish whether a child is a member of, or whether they practise, the faith' (para 2.52). Schools under the religious authority of the Chief Rabbi should develop tests of Jewish religious practice which can be used for this purpose. It is by no means satisfactory, but is the best option in order to comply with the School Admissions Code. The Chief Rabbi has provided guidance that the tests be based on the three basic pillars of Judaism: Torah (Jewish education), Avodah (prayer) and Gemilut Chasadim (acts of kindness).
2. So what do I have to do?
When applying to a Jewish school or nursery under the religious authority of the Office of the Chief Rabbi, you will need to have completed a Certificate of Religious Practice (CRP). A copy must be sent direct to the school or nursery together with relevant supporting documents and the school’s Supplementary Information Form (SIF). You should keep a copy of the CRP and its relevant supporting documents for future use.
If you wish to gain points by attending United Synagogue Shabbat morning services, you must first register at the synagogue you and / or your child will be attending. Check the synagogue's website for registration details and its office opening hours. This should be undertaken online or by email wherever possible. Please note: registration cannot be undertaken on a Shabbat or Yom Tov.
3. I am a member of an orthodox synagogue, so why do I have to complete a CRP?
In order to be a member of a synagogue, one has to pay a fee. To become a member of an orthodox synagogue one has to be halachically Jewish. Following the Supreme Court judgment, we have been advised that synagogue membership cannot be used as an admission criterion.
4. Does this apply to all schools and nurseries under the religious authority of the Office of the Chief Rabbi?
Almost all. Both voluntary aided (state), independent schools and independent nurseries are affected by the Supreme Court ruling and must comply with its requirements.
5. Have all schools adopted the same CRP?
No. However, all Greater London OCR (Office of the Chief Rabbi) secondary schools are using the same form. All five US primary schools and their nurseries have adopted the same CRP, but it is significantly different from the secondary schools' form. Therefore, in some instances there will be less need to fill in multiple forms. However, other OCR schools have varied their CRP requirements.
6. Where can I get these CRP forms?
They will be available from the schools' offices and/or websites and the schools' local authority.
7. What are the three CRP sections?
1. Synagogue Shabbat service attendance,
2. Jewish educational activities,
3. Voluntary Jewish communal, charitable or welfare activities.
(All to be undertaken over a specific period of time)
At secondary level, only the participation of the child is to be recorded, whereas at nursery and primary, it is the child and/or their parent/guardian.
8. My personal circumstances prevent me from attending synagogue Shabbat services enough times to gain sufficient points. What can I do?
For US primary schools and nurseries you can gain sufficient points without synagogue Shabbat service attendance, for example, parents can undertake a Jewish learning course. More information is on the CRP form. For US secondary schools, children should be active in their Cheder, or have attended a Jewish primary school.
9. Can parents or children just check into a synagogue and then leave straight away?
Points will not be awarded just for arriving at a synagogue, recording attendance and leaving immediately. Synagogues are required to decline to record attendance in that scenario.
10. I cannot attend Jewish adult education courses in my local synagogue. What can I do?
There are many educational opportunities organised by the majority of United Synagogue communities, which non-members are welcome to attend. There are also many other opportunities elsewhere. Please check with your local US Synagogue to see what courses are available.
11. Can my/my child’s synagogue attendance be backdated?
No. It has been made clear that initial synagogue registration must take place at least two days before an intended first attendance.
12. I am not sure about volunteering. What does it cover?
Volunteering means giving your time, not your money. There is a list of volunteering opportunities on this website but your local United Synagogue may have others in your area. In a United Synagogue, you should contact the synagogue's administrator or US Chesed (020 8343 5688) who will put you in touch with your synagogue's Care Coordinator.
13. How can I volunteer as I cannot spend time away from home?
There are many volunteering opportunities which can be carried out from home, eg by phone, on the internet, etc. Almost all United Synagogue communities have Care Coordinators, as do many other communities. Call US Chesed who will put you in touch.
14. In order to undertake voluntary work, will I need a Criminal Records Bureau check?
In some instances it is necessary to have a CRB, particularly if you intend to volunteer to work with children or vulnerable adults. It will be best for you to ask the organisation with which you volunteer.
15. Will my child receive preferential treatment if we achieve more than the minimum number of points required for school admission?
No. The CRP is not an examination, but a method of establishing whether the child/family practises the Jewish faith.
16. I've still got questions about the CRP, which I don't think you have answered. What can I do?
Please contact the school to which you are applying.