The Jewish community is celebrating this week after the Government approved funding bids for two new primary schools.

When full the schools -- one in Shenley and the other near Borehamwood -- will accommodate between 466 and 476 pupils mainly from Borehamwood, Elstree, Shenley, Radlett and Bushey.

Friday's eagerly-awaited decision by Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett means children will be admitted to both schools from September 1999.

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Rabbi Jonathan Black of Hertsmere Progressive Synagogue in Elstree High Street said he was "excited and delighted" after hearing state funds would be available for a school at Shenleybury Farm, Shenley.

The majority of the £2million bill for the synagogue-sponsored project will be met by the Government, he said.

When full the school will hold 236 pupils, 30 pupils will be admitted each year.

By March last year the waiting list was already 250 names long.

Mr Black said a student in Oxford had written a thesis on how it was impossible, under current Government rules, to set up a school from nothing. "We have just achieved the impossible," he said.

After four years of hard work, moves to transform to the derelict farm house at the bottom of Black Lion Hill into a school for four to 11-year-olds are already underway.

We first reported plans for the first Jewish primary school in Hertfordshire in November 1996 when synagogue leaders were in the process of buying the site from a Watford company.

Planning permission was granted in January 1996 -- but now building work will start immediately, and teachers are being sought.

Jonathan Lew, chief executive of the United Synagogue group, which includes the Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue in Croxdale Road and Radlett United Synagogue in Watling Street, said he too was delighted.

He revealed the site for his school -- including a nursery unit -- would be the former Stanley House Country Club on Watling Street between Borehamwood and Radlett.

Like the Shenley school, 30 pupils would be admitted each year.

When full, between 230 and 240 pupils will study there.

In 1996 Jonathan Arkush, chairman of the steering committee for the United Synagogue's new school, said the Elstree and Borehamwood synagogue sent two coach loads of children to Harrow, and nearly as many went by car.

For more than 15 years, he said, the synagogue had wanted to establish its own school.

This week he said: "We have a long way to go yet before the school is open and we will be seeking help and assistance from many people in the community at large."

Mr Black added: "We believe the school will have a unique emphasis on the importance of a spiritual framework to life, with respect for difference and diversity.

"Other religions will of course also be taught and we look forward to developing close links with the local community and with other schools in the area.

Both schools will follow the National Curriculum, as required by law.

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