Jewish pupils face quarantine over postponed Leaving exam

JEWISH STUDENTS who cannot take the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examination in English tomorrow for religious reasons will…

JEWISH STUDENTS who cannot take the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examination in English tomorrow for religious reasons will be “quarantined” from tomorrow morning until Sunday because of the Jewish Sabbath.

Thousands of students will sit English paper 2 tomorrow morning at 9.30am, after a superintendent distributed the wrong paper to students in a Co Louth school on Wednesday.

However, the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland spokesman Carl Nelkin, said “fewer than 10” Jewish students will take the examination this Sunday morning instead.

“They will remain in quarantine under supervision in an Orthodox household in Dublin.


“It’ll be a typical Sabbath day which means, among other things, that they won’t have access to TV, internet, mobile phones or any other electronic media,” he said. “While words like quarantine might sound harsh, this will be a typical Sabbath environment, which is very enjoyable.”

Mr Nelkin praised the State Examinations Commission (SEC), which rescheduled the papers. “We are very grateful to the SEC for their efforts in accommodating the needs of those Jewish students whose religious beliefs preclude them from sitting the Leaving Certificate English 2 paper on Saturday,” he said.

The Jewish students attend different schools, including Stratford College, a co-educational secondary school in Rathgar, Co Dublin, which was founded in the 1950s by members of the Jewish community.

The principal of Stratford College, Patricia Gordon, confirmed yesterday that talks on the arrangements were taking place between the SEC and the College. “Following the rescheduling of the English exam to Saturday, Stratford College is in discussions with the SEC to resolve the difficulties arising for Orthodox Jewish students.”

The Jewish Sabbath runs from an hour before sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. It is brought in “artificially early” in the summer, from 8pm on Friday until nightfall on Saturday night, according to Mr Nelkin.

The SEC said last night it had agreed to the deferred sitting for the “small number” of Jewish students following representations from the Jewish community in Ireland.

“This approach is based on legal advice which indicates that, asking these students to sit an examination on their Sabbath, when their religion prohibits it and it is against their conscience, cannot be justified on constitutional grounds.”

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times