A Jew by any other name would still eat matzah ball soup?

This is a fascinating case that highlights the complexities of religion and ethnicity. Is Judaism a religion or an ethnicity? Do Jews of different races share the same religion and the same ethnic umbrella?

Who is a Jew?

According to Judaism 101, "a Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism." Judaism 101 goes on to say that "a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do... In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship."

This question was posed to a British Court when a 12-year-old boy, an observant Jew whose father is Jewish and whose mother is a Jewish convert, was denied entry to the Jews’ Free School (JFS) in North London. JFS, which subscribes to the Orthodox definition of Judaism - maternal lineage - denied the boy entry because his mother converted in a progressive, not an Orthodox, synagogue. According to the school "she was not a Jew — nor was her son."

The family has filed suit against JFS for discriminatory practices. They initially lost, but the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal this summer. According to the New York Times
The case rested on whether the school’s test of Jewishness was based on religion, which would be legal, or on race or ethnicity, which would not. The court ruled that it was an ethnic test because it concerned the status of M’s mother rather than whether M considered himself Jewish and practiced Judaism.
JFS is currently in the process of appealing to Britain’s Supreme Court . However, this incident has left divided loyalties among those of different Jewish denominations. Who has the authority to determine the definition of Jewishness?

We ask you these question:

Who has the authority to determine the definition of Jewishness?

Religious leaders?

Secular courts?

Religious courts?

Those who consider themselves Jewish?

What factors should be used to determine said definition?

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