ORTHODOX UNION PLEASED WITH SABBATH ACCOMMODATION FOR NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Commends diverse group of elected officials, advocates and attorneys for standing up for principles of religious liberty
The Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, is pleased that the National High School Mock Trial Championship (NHSMTC) agreed to accommodate the Sabbath observance needs of Orthodox Jewish students at the competition.
NHSMTC is taking place in Atlanta, GA from May 7-9, 2009, and the Massachusetts state champions, the Maimonides Day School of suburban Boston had asked for an accommodation of their Sabbath observance in the tournament scheduling. While a similar accommodation had been reached in 2005 for the Torah Academy of Bergen County, the NHSMTC initially refused any accommodation. The Orthodox Union joined a diverse group of civil rights advocates and elected officials, led by constitutional scholar and Supreme Court litigator Nathan Lewin and his partner Alyza Lewin, to speak out on the issue. Others included the Anti-Defamation League and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice which questioned whether Georgia State Courts could receive federal grant funds if it engaged in discrimination. In addition, Governor Sonny Purdue’s office engaged the issue with the leadership of NHSMTC and the Georgia Bar and Chief Judge Doris Downs of Fulton County Superior Courts refused to allow use of the court’s facilities for the event unless an accommodation was reached.
Nathan J. Diament, OU Director of Public Policy stated:
“Religious freedom in America is enshrined in our constitution and protected by our laws. Sadly, many are still discriminated against – here it was all the more galling that it was the legal profession itself that was engaging in such bigotry. But this episode proves that courageous elected officials and all people of good will can effect change for the better.”