Orthodox groups file brief for beit din system


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Three Orthodox groups asked a New York appellate court to defend the viability of the Jewish beit din court system from interference by secular courts.

The Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America and Torah U’Mesorah filed an amicus brief with the New York State Appellate Division in the case of Brisman v. Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns & Rockaway. In that case, a teacher at the Long Island academy was fired because of a dispute over religious philosophy, but the Beit Din of America ruled in favor of the teacher. The teacher then sought to have the Beth Din’s ruling affirmed by a New York court, but the court threw it out.

The brief does not take a posiiton on the merits of the case, but argues that the New York trial court "unconstitutionally interfered in a religious dispute" and "incorrectly ignored the parties’ arbitration contract which provided that their dispute would be settled in the Beit Din," therefore undermining the "viability" of the Jewish Beit Din system and infringing on First Amendment rights.

Members of the Orthodox Jewish community, and other communities of faith, are often obligated to resolve disputes within their religious institutions," said OU public policy director Nathan Diament. "Without the assurance of non-interference by secular courts and the reliable, religiously neutral enforcement of arbitration proceedings, such religious liberty and autonomy is undermined."

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