Canadian Court Rules Jewish Marriage Without License Valid

A Toronto Judge validated today a 1958 marriage performed without a civil marriage license by a part-time cantor. The case involved the marriage of a divorced Polish-born woman and a 68-year-old rabbi. They had been introduced 14 days earlier by a marriage broker. The rabbi, David Friedman, died in 1960, leaving an estate estimated at between $20,000 and $30,000.

The widow, Mrs. Myrel Friedman, sought an Ontario Supreme Court declaration that the marriage was valid under Ontario law, so that she could apply for the widow’s share of the estate, $50,000 plus two-thirds of the remainder. K.M. Smookler, administrator of the estate, was the defendant.

Justice W.F. Spence ruled that the woman and the rabbi entered the marriage in good faith and intended to comply with Ontario law. He said he found that the ceremony had been conducted in accordance with Jewish rites. Noting that there was no civil license, he said he had examined testimony from an authority on orthodox Jewish practices to the effect that such marriages were not rare among Jews.

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