Ultra-Orthodox Jews say London schools should not teach 'lies' that Earth is older than 6,000 years

Lydia Smith
The letter focuses on funding for schools in Hackney, north-east London, which has a large Jewish community: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish group in London is understood to have written a letter urging teachers to boycott Government funding that would oblige them to teach “the lie that the world is ancient”, rather than 6,000 years old, as it says in the Bible.

The leaked document, written in ancient Hebrew, was reportedly sent to in January by the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which has an affiliation of nearly 90 synagogues, as well as educational institutions.

The letter, which focuses on funding for schools in Hackney, north-east London, is said to state senior rabbis in the community met to review new Department of Education funding contracts.

It reveals they concluded signing the contracts could amount to heresy on grounds a clause they contain bans schools from promoting “views or theories as fact which is contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations”, the Sunday Times reported.

This would preclude teachers from putting forward the view the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Scientific evidence points to the figure being out by around 4.5 billion years.

In a response to the letter emailed to The Independent, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, deputy mayor of Hackney, said: “In September 2017, our early years funding contract with nurseries was amended and sent out to include the new 30 hours of free childcare for parents of three and four year olds.

“The contract included the clause referred to by the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which has been in the contract since 2015.

“All nurseries under contract are registered and inspected by Ofsted and the clause has not caused a problem to date.

“There are rightly requirements on nurseries attached to this funding and our contracts reflect DfE guidance, which is clear that we cannot fund providers who do not meet statutory requirements. We have good relationships with our providers and we hope that they will continue to work with us to access this funding.”

Hackney Council stated one Orthodox Jewish provider has written regarding their funding contract and is currently considering its response.

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations did not respond to a request for comment.