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Jewish Congress Supports Church in California School Suit

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The American Jewish Congress today filed a brief in the District Court of Appeal in San Francisco as a “friend of the court,” upholding the right of the Roman Catholic Welfare Corporation to build a parochial school in the city of Piedmont, California.

The brief urges the Court to invalidate a Piedmont zoning ordinance which bars the erection or operation of religious schools in residential areas. The Piedmont ordinance is being attacked in a suit brought by the Catholic Corporation, which has title to school properties of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, on the grounds that the statute violates religious freedom.

The brief emphasized that “sectarian education is the very essence of religion. Contemporary religious practices both by Christians and Jews are conceived both by the ministry and by their congregants as encompassing far more than a routine system of devotional exercises. This inner linking of religious and sectarian education is a recurrent theme in Jewish religious precepts. Indeed, the Rabbis measure the obligation of religious study as equivalent to all other religious obligations.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, the brief points out, “has ruled that parents have a constitutional right to send their children to parochial schools instead of public schools if their religious convictions so dictate. The City of Piedmont cannot destroy or evade this constitutional right by prohibiting the erection of parochial schools.”

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