Religious Freedom, School Choice, and the Politics of Orthodox Jewry in America

February 23, 2023 | Michael A. Helfand
About the author: Michael A. Helfand is an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and associate director of Pepperdine’s Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies.

Among the foremost legal debates over religion and state in the U.S. at the moment is the question of whether government funds may, or perhaps must, be directed to religious educational institutions. For the Orthodox, who tend to spend a large portion of their income on private religious schooling for their children, the question has pressing, practical consequences. Michael A. Helfand, in conversation with David Bashevkin, carefully outlines the fundamental constitutional issues at stake, and tells the story of how, as early as the 1960s, these concerns prompted Orthodox Jews to form a distinct organizational profile within American Jewry. Helfand also addresses the relationship between advocacy for parochial group interests and the broader duties of citizenship. (Audio, 93 minutes. A transcript can be found at the link below.)

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