British Government Consults Beth Din on Jewish Law and Ritual

(J.T.A. Mail Service)

The Beth Din, religious court of the United Synagogue, presided over by the Chief Rabbi, is consulted by government departments and public bodies for rulings on questions of religious and ritual practice, it was reported at the meeting of the United Synagogue Council held here.

While the number of disputes heard by the Beth Din is practically the same as in the previous year, the number of hearings found necessary to dispose of these disputes has been increased by 34. The summonses issued have increased by 60 percent. It has been noticed that the receipt of a summons to a Din Torah often leads to a settlement of the dispute without actual recourse to a hearing; in some cases the claim is met and payment deposited at the Beth Din from the defendant before the hearing actually takes place; in others the defendant sends an admission of the claim with a definite promise of payment. the report states.

It is interesting to note the increase at the Beth Din of cases which would be most likely to cause a “Chillul Hashem” if brought in the open courts, breach of promise cases (22 as against 14), landlord and tenant (21 as against 14), communal (38 as against 35) and domestic (26 as against 13). There is also an increase in the recurring cases of disputes between husband and wife.

The Civil Courts, especially the Magistrates of the East End of London, are availing themselves more and more freely of the services of the Beth Din by referring certain Jewish cases to it. The community is thus relieved, to a great extent, of the anxiety of having Jewish cases unfavorably commented upon in the general press. It is significant that the decisions of the Beth Din are appealed against only in very rare and exceptional instances; and even then unsuccessfully.

The services of the Beth Din continue to be utilized by Government Departments and Public Bodies, particularly the Home Office. Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor, and the Police, who frequently consult the Beth Din on matters affecting Jews. Legal practioners, too, often avail themselves of the advice of the Beth Din in regard to points of Jewish Law and practice.

Thirty-nine religious divorces were given by the Beth Din, after Civil disolution of the marriages by the Courts, during the past year, as compared with 26 in the previous year. The difficultyin regard to divorces for women whose husbands deserted them and re-married abroad still obtains without any means being available for the dissolution of their marriages by the English Courts.

The problem of Proselytisation remains in all its acuteness. At the 12 special sessions held during the year under review to deal with these cases, as many as 126 applications from London and 41 from the Provinces were considered. The Beth Din is endeavoring to arrest the growing evil of intermarriage, and in some cases has been successful, but the quesion bristles with difficulties and can only be effectively solved by the whole-hearted co-operation of all sections of the community, the report declares.

Rabbi Baruch Berel Leibowitz, head of the Ken##eth Beth Isaac Yeehivn of Brest-Liovsk, Poland, was received on Tuesday at the City Hall by Mayor Walker.

Mayor Walker referend to the Jews of New York as “the most charitable and generous people in the world.”

“If it were not for their benefactions,” said the Mayor, “the city would be put to great expense earing for the sick and the indigent.’

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