London Jewish sect bans women from driving

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A Hasidic Jewish group in London has banned women from driving their children to school after a letter signed by rabbis claimed that children driven to school by women would be barred from classes.

Orthodox Jewish leaders from the Belz Hasidic sect in Stamford Hill, north London, are reported to have signed a letter sent to the community, which warned that pupils dropped off at school by female drivers would be banned from lessons from August onwards. This follows the claim that allowing women to drive goes against "the traditional rules of modesty in our camp" writes the Jewish Chronicle, contravening Hasidic conventions.

The letter also cited the increasing level of mothers driving as leading to "great resentment among the parents of pupils in our institutions," reports The Independent. This topic has proven particularly controversial in Stamford Hill as the area is believed to have the largest population of highly orthodox Hasidic Jews outside of Israel and New York.

UK Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Dina, Brawer, told the newspaper that the new rules have no basis in scripture and could make life difficult for many women. "It is part of a bigger conversation about extremism," she said.

"This has nothing to do with Jewish law; there is no foundation for it and I found it most disturbing that it is basically saying children whose mothers are driving will not be allowed to continue their education.

"I think that is completely against Jewish values and the Bible's values."