Rabbinic Assembly Debates Marriage Annulment According to Jewish Law

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

No rabbi has the right to annul a marriage that has been performed by a rabbi, whether Orthodox or Reform, and annulment can take pace only by a rabbinic council, according to a paper presented by Rabbi Louis M. Epstein of Boston to the second day’s session of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Jewish Theological Seminary of Amerca at the Hotel Scarboro here today.

“In the last few years,” declared Rabbi Epstein, “we have heard too often of easy and ready relief, offered to Jewish women in matrimonial difficulties by rabbis who have established their reputation in that specialized field, relief from the Jewish marriage bond, by the annulment of their marriages. Such action is often desirable in view of the disadvantage of the Jewish woman before the Jewish court, when she sues for divorce. But one has a right to suspect some irregularity in the procedure, when he finds rabbis making a specialized profession of it. and when, contrary to Jewish usuage, they act single handed, consult none of their colleagues and publish no responsa in support of their action.

“According to conditions as they are today, the power of Beth Din cannot be vested with the officers of any congregation or with any individual rabbi. The power of a Beth Din today can belong only to a rabbinic organization.”

Discussion on the paper was led by Rabbi Julius Greenstone of Phildelphia.

Whether gifts from a non-Jew to a synagogue should be accepted was the subject of discussion by the convention delegates. A resolution adopted recommended that such gifts may be accepted.

A meeting of the Committee on Constitution. of which Rabbi Norman Salit is chairman. Adopted a resolution that the constitution be amended changing the name of the body from the Rabbinical Assembly of America to the Rabbinical Assembly of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America Amendments to other clauses of the constitution are occupying the attention of the committee.

Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary submitted the report of the placement committee. Of the graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary during 1927-8, twenty-nine have been placed in pulpits. With regard to the eight graduates of the last semester, two have accepted positions, two are about to be placed and four have no posts. Seven Rabbis have been engaged by congregations which either never had a rabbi or were recently organized. The positions of the new rabbis yield an annual income of from $2,500 to $5,000 and over. Twenty-nine pulpits are today unoccupied. Sixteen rabbis recently changed their posts.

At the afternoon session Rabbi Louis Finkelstein of New York presented a paper on “Can Maimonides Still Guide Us?” “Aspects of Jewish Nationalism in the Bible” was the subject of a paper by Rabbi Simon Greenberg.

Another meeting of the Assembly is to be held later in the summer and a committee consisting of Rabbi Epstein of Boston, Rabbi Greenstone of Philadelphia, Rabbi Drob of Philadelphia, Rabbi Liebovitz, Rabbi Jacob Cohen, Rabbi Louis Finkelstein and Rabbi Morris Levine was appointed to arrange for the next meeting.

A recommendation presented to the convention was to the effect that the Executive Council be elected for three years and that the Council be composed of eight standing committees, including a committee on Jewish law, on publication, Palestine and membership. The convention is to vote on this recommendation.

Memorial services for the late Dr. Zevi Chajes of Vienna were held this afternoon, presided over by Dr. Alexander Marx of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rabbi Louis M. Levitsky was toastmaster at the convention banquet held last night. “Experiences by which We Profited” was the subject of the addresses at the banquet.

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