U.K. education secretary calls for inquiry into Hasidic sect’s female driving ban

British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has called for an inquiry into reports that the Belz Hasidic sect is seeking to ban female drivers.

In a letter sent out to families last week, the sect’s rabbis said female drivers go against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and that children would be barred from their schools if they are dropped off by their mothers in cars. 

Morgan called such rules “completely unacceptable in modern Britain.”

“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,” she said in a statement.

The Belz Hasidic sect was founded in modern-day Ukraine in the early 19th century. Nearly wiped out by the Holocaust, the group is mainly based in Israel and the U.S., with a smaller community around the northern London neighborhood of Stamford Hill. 

Ahron Klein, chief executive of the Belz Boys’ School, wrote in a letter to Morgan that it was “never our intention to stigmatize or discriminate against children or their parents for the sole reason that either of the parents drives a car,” London’s Jewish Chronicle reported. 

“We have already made it clear to our community that they need have no reason for concern. We accept that the choice of words was unfortunate, and if a negative impression was created by our letter, then we unreservedly apologize for that,” Klein wrote, adding that his community has “no intention” of changing its policy on female drivers.

Posted on May 29, 2015 .