UK Jewish group u-turn on female driving ban

British Education Secretary had immediately called the ban "completely unacceptable in modern Britain"

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in London has backed down after being warned it faced action over a letter banning women members from driving their children to school, the Guardian reported Saturday.

The letter said women drivers were "contrary to the rules of religious modesty" for the Belz community and said that children driven in by their mothers would be barred once classes resume in August.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan immediately called the ban "completely unacceptable in modern Britain" and the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned in a letter that it was unlawful and discriminatory.

The group, which runs two schools in the Stamford Hill area of north London, now says the letter, based on the advice of Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the Belzer spiritual leader in Israel, should not have been sent out.

"The headteacher sent out the letter on behalf of the spiritual heads of the community, who had not taken into account the implications of such a policy," Ahron Klein, chief executive of the schools, said in a statement.

"The school believes that women have a choice about whether they want to drive or not, and our policy is to accept all children who are members of our community, which we have been doing for the last 40 years."

This Hasidic community was founded in Belz in Ukraine in the 19th century, and comprises 10,000 families worldwide, mainly in Canada, Israel and the United States.