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Jews Win Court Test in Rumania

The unique court case in which 11,000 Jewish citizens of Rumania sued the Minister of Public Worship for depriving them of election rights to the Czernowitz Jewish Community, concluded today with a victory for the Jews.

The Supreme Administrative Court in Czernowitz ruled that the action of the Minister of Public Worship was illegal. The verdict is considered of the most importance with regard to the maintenance of the autonomy of the Jewish communities in Rumania.

DENIES MINISTRY’S RIGHT

In issuing its verdict, the court declared that the Ministry had no right to liquidate the legally elected Jewish Community in Czernowitz; also that Dr. Marcus Menczer, the government commissioner, had no right to change the statutes of the Jewish Community in Czernowitz which affected the election rights of the 11,000 voters. Furthermore, the court pointed out, he did not even have the right to propose such changes because these changes must come only from a properly elected autonomous organization.

Dr. Menczer, the government commissioner, argued in court that he changed the statutes of the Czernowitz Jewish community not on his own initiative but upon instructions from the Minister. The change made in the statutes provides that only those Jews who pay religious taxes can participate in the elections of the Jewish community. As a result of this change, 11,000 voters in Czernowitz who had not paid a religious tax were deprived of their voting rights and only 3,000 were qualified and entitled to vote.

Dr. Karl Guthertz, president of the dissolved Jewish community, in appealing to the court in the name of the 11,000 disfranchised Jews, argued that the change in the statutes was illegal because the Jewish Community existed under statutes approved by the government.

Dr. Radelescu, dean of the Czernowitz Chamber of Lawyers, appearing for the Jewish community, emphasized that the statutes were drafted by an elected Jewish Community Council and only an elected Jewish Council had the right to change them. Annulment of the statutes by the Ministry of Public Worship was therefore illegal, he contended.

The lawyer for the government, defending the act of the Minister of Worship, warned that if the Supreme Administrative Court issued a verdict against the Minister, it would establish a dangerous precedent. Immediately after the verdict he announced that he would take the case to the Court of Appeals. It is expected, however, that the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court will be upheld.

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