Jewish community leaders have rejected a ruling from rabbis of the Satmar Orthodox sect in London which bans women from university.
It follows an edict, written in Yiddish and published in The Independent, which described university education as “dangerous” for women, and “against the Torah”.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said: “The mainstream Jewish community would certainly reject this view.”
It continued: “Both Jewish girls and boys should all have the opportunity to go to university if that is what they want to do.”
The Satmar decree states: “It has lately become the new trend that girls and married women are pursuing degrees in special education. Some attend classes and others online. And so we’d like to let their parents know that it is against the Torah.”
The rabbis’ ruling adds: “We will be very strict about this. No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree. It is dangerous. Girls who will not abide will be forced to leave our school. Also, we will not give any jobs or teaching position in the school to girls who’ve been to college or have a degree.
“We have to keep our school safe and we can’t allow any secular influences in our holy environment. It is against the base upon which our Mosed was built.”
Sharon Weiss-Greenberg of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) told The Independent that the Satmar community “chooses to live in an isolationist enclave. They believe that the secular elements of the world would tarnish the lives and beliefs of those who consider themselves to be religious”.
She added: “Ultimately, the results are devastating. Because people from similar communities are not provided with a foundational primary education, they cannot pursue higher education or careers. When one does not have access to education, career opportunities are out of reach. It forces one to stay within the community as everyone’s personal lives are tied up with their professional lives as well.”