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Delaware: School Board to Pay Orthodox Jews In Prayer Suit

daven.jpgThe NY Times reports: A Delaware school district has agreed to revise its policies on religion as part of a settlement with two Jewish families who had sued over the pervasiveness of Christian prayer and other religious activities in the schools.

One family said it was forced to leave its home in Georgetown because of an anti-Semitic backlash.

The settlement, which was approved Tuesday, includes payments to the families that both sides would not disclose. Although the settlement resolves many complaints in the suit, against the Indian River School District, the parties are proceeding with litigation over the school board practice of beginning its sessions with prayer.

Mona Dobrich, 41, whose family was a plaintiff in the suit, said such a furious reaction had exacted a profound toll on her family and might indicate that the settlement would alter little on the ground.

In the settlement, the district did not concede that it had violated the First Amendment through its practices, said its lawyer, Jason Gosselin. The board approved the accord unanimously.

It mandates that within 30 days the district has to amend its religion policy to clarify what practices are constitutional. A detailed list of “real world examples” are to be sent to staff members and parents, including situations like prayer before sports events and the distribution of religious materials at schools.

Mrs. Dobrich’s decision to leave her hometown and seek legal help was made after a school board meeting in August 2004 on the prayer issue. Hundreds showed up to protest her position.

Her son, Alex, then 11, had written a short statement that said in part: “I feel bad when kids in my class call me ‘Jew boy.’ I do not want to move away from the house I have lived in forever.” Mrs. Dobrich said. “Alex was in the yard, and some kids came up and said, ‘There’s that boy who’s suing “J”.’

(Source: NY Times)

5 Responses

  1. This is a serious mistake. We should not interfere with Goyim in their countries. They have a right to their way of life and fighting them about it will only bring serious problems for Jews.

    Any Jew that is serious about correcting the religious beliefs of the Goyim should focus on teaching them the SHEVAH MITZVOS BENEI NOACH and not enter into efforts to ban or limit their religions. Even in the Goyish countries, there exist sufficient institutions of Jewish education that there is no good reason for a Jew to send his children to the Goyish schools. Furthermore if the public display of Goyish religion is so unsettling to someone, he can live amongst Jews in Israel.

  2. Although, i agree that we are in Golus — I believe our Rabbonim have shown us, that we are not to stand idly by and get trampled by anti-semitism. In a country that has laws to protect ALL religions, it should not be any different to OURS. Isn’t Agudah involved in lots of Anti-Semitism cases? So while some issues may be better off swept under the rug, others deserve to be dealt with legally — under our country’s laws. Our Rabbonim are qualified to decide which is which and should be consulted to render their decisions.

  3. Aryeh:

    Respectfully, you are confusing two concepts found in the Constitution — the freedom of religion and the prohibition of government endorsement of a religion. Christians have the right to do whatever they want in their churches and their homes. But when the government advocates Christian prayer in schools, courts have consistently held that this is a violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state. The government settled because they knew they would lose in court. That Christians have chosen to retaliate against the plaintiffs, I guess, is just their way of demonstrating “Christian love.”

  4. I agree completely with the previous poster. This kind of protyletizing is completely against the Constitution. Also, this behavior should concern us directly, even though we don’t send our kids to public school, because it places the thousands of Jewish children who are now in public schools at further risk for assimilation. (If this behavior is not stopped in Delaware, it can happen in other districts as well).

    I wish the Agudah would take on their case. But I doubt they would–and that’s why the organizations like the ACLU are so important.

  5. Maybe this will wake up frum organizations (like the Agudah) that area always blindly attacking the separation between church and state in the name of short-term financial gains for Jewish organizations. Separation of church and state is what has allowed us to flourish in this country. If that separation weakens for us, it weakens for everybody — and as a minority, we are the ones who suffer.

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