Europe’s largest Jewish day school has told students that they don’t have to wear their school blazers right now, with an identifying badge, amid heightened concerns about antisemitism following Hamas’s deadly terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7.
The nearly 300-year-old, co-educational, Modern Orthodox Jewish Free School in North London enrolls 2,000-plus students. At one time, it was the largest Jewish school in the world with more than 4,000 pupils.
The head of school wrote to parents: “I think the badge of our school, which has been a safe haven for Jews for nearly 300 years, is important, but should students wish to not wear a blazer then I would understand that decision. As such, they will be optional for the next week.”
The school also canceled “after-school detentions” for the week, per the email, which The Times viewed.
The school’s logo includes an image with a Star of David and a Torah scroll, as well as Hebrew text.
The JFS community is mourning one of its former students, Nathanel Young, who was killed while serving in the Israeli army on the Gaza border on Saturday. Another former JFS student, Jake Marlow, 26, who was part of the security at a music festival in southern Israel, remains missing. (Officially, at least 260 attendees of the festival were killed.)
London Jewish schools are working closely with the police and the charity Community Security Trust, which guards Jewish communities across the country, to ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff. CST is “already seeing incidents of racist antisemitism against Jewish people and property in response to the awful terror attack in Israel,” according to its blog.
In a letter to parents, Mark Gardner, the CEO of CST, wrote that “a sharp rise in antisemitism” is likely in the United Kingdom.