Chabad couple made to pay $100k for home schooling their children in Sweden

A view of Gothenburg, Sweden. (Wikimedia Commons) 

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Sweden’s Supreme Court court ordered a rabbi and his teacher wife to pay more than $100,000 for homeschooling two of their children.

Alexander and Leah Namdar, both emissaries of the Chabad movement in Gothenburg, received a $67,000 penalty and another $30,000 in trial expenses last week in the final ruling on a case that has been going on since 2011, the KBalans news site reported.

Swedish law allows homeschooling under “special circumstances,” but religion is not considered among them.

The Namdars, who have lived in Sweden for nearly 30 years, cited their religious sensibilities and the vulnerability of Jewish institutions, including schools, to anti-Semitic attacks in their request to homeschool their children.

In 2012, a three-judge panel of the city’s Administrative Courts of Appeal said the couple may continue to provide education at home for their children.

The Education Ministry appealed but lost its case in the lower and middle courts. The ministry then appealed to the Supreme Court, which delivered its ruling last week. The couple has refused to send their school-age children while the trial was ongoing and raised funds to cover their legal expenses.

One of the Chabad movement’s top rabbis accused Sweden of “persecution” against the couple. Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, made the allegation in an open letter last year that he addressed to the Swedish government.