SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A Zionist youth movement accused Australia’s largest Jewish school of “discriminating” against its leaders by banning them from canvassing students on its campus.
Netzer, the youth wing of the Progressive/Reform movement, launched a petition May 13 against Moriah College saying that it is the only Zionist youth movement “prohibited from acting within the school grounds” and that it has been “consistently barred from participating in all Moriah College events.”
The petition had more than 400 signatories within 24 hours of launching.
Brett Kaye, Moriah’s head of Jewish life and learning, told JTA that “Moriah College has always operated within its modern Orthodox Zionist ethos. It is the longstanding policy of Moriah not to allow Netzer, the Reform Zionist youth movement, to promote its activities on our campus because their religious platform is in conflict with Moriah’s religious ethos.”
Moriah is a coeducational Modern Orthodox Jewish school with 1,600 students from preschool to high school.
Netzer accepts that Moriah “may believe that many students may not connect with Netzer’s ideology,” but called on the college to “allow their students to use the critical thought that the college aims to foster” to make up their own minds about whether to join the Zionist youth movement.
The Union for Progressive Judaism has backed its youth wing, saying that earlier this year Netzer Sydney wrote to the school to request entry but never received a response.
“The UPJ supports Netzer’s decision to launch a petition to show what the global community thinks about this issue,” said executive director Steve Denenberg.