U.S. Scholar Calls Israeli Rabbinate ‘anachronism,’ Urges ‘rationalism’

Israel’s rabbinical courts were described as an “anachronism” by a noted American legal philosopher, the late Prof. Edmond Cahn, whose paper was read this weekend before the American-Israeli “dialogue” conducted in the last week by the American Jewish Congress. The paper by Prof. Cahn, who died in New York a weekago, was presented by Will Maslow, executive director of the AJC, and stated that “free people have the right to make and change their own laws of personal status, instead of submitting to an ancient code purporting to be unamendable.”

“Sects” in Israel, Prof. Cahn said, “are using the political state as a tool to clamp their doctrines on the lives of the whole population.” He urged Israel to reconsider its reservations about the enactment of a bill of rights which, he stated, “would guarantee just and rational methods of justice.”

The “dialogue,” which had been held in Jerusalem, adjourned to the auditorium of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology here, for its concluding session. The closing principal speaker was Gideon Hausner, Israel’s former attorney general, who pointed out that Israel had “succeeded in establishing juridical institutions which strengthen its democratic society.” Prof. Cahn was eulogized as a great legal scholar by Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, and Mrs. Lillian Steinberg, president of the AJC Women’s Auxiliary. Dr. Prinz announced that the AJC will hold another “dialogue” in Israel–the fourth of an annual series — next year.

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