Bill to restore authority of rabbinical courts advances

Ministerial Committee endorses bill to restore authority to rabbinical courts to serve as arbitrators in cases involving civil law.


Rabbinical Court
Rabbinical Court
Flash 90

JTA - The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday a bill granting rabbinical courts the power to serve as arbitrators in cases involving civil law.

The bill, which was initiated by MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), is intended to restore the power the rabbinical courts had until about a decade ago, when the Supreme Court removed the authority to serve as arbitrators in cases involving civil law from the rabbinical courts.

The Supreme Court ruling prohibited rabbinical courts fro hearing cases involving civil law.

The bill restoring authority to the rabbinical courts only extends to arbitration, and specifies that the rabbinical courts will not constitute a parallel jurisdiction to the secular courts.

The Israel Democracy Institute expressed support for the bill to the members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

In 1948, when the state was established, then Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog wrote that he expected the government to turn to the Chief Rabbinate to guide the courts in the application of Jewish Civil Law - not criminal law - to the Jewish state. Much scholarship was invested in the subject by rabbis and religious legal experts, but the Jewish state decided to base its judiciary on a mixture of Ottoman, British and later, even Jordanian law ( for lands in Judea and Samaria) instead of Jewish civil law as had been the norm for Jewish courts in the Diaspora in any country that gave Jews independent civil courts.