Rabbi’s fury as Beth Din over­ruled in brit case

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

THE IS­RAELI Supreme Court has ruled that a Beth Din — a rab­bini­cal court — can­not or­der a mother to have her son cir­cum­cised as part of a di­vorce case.

Last Sun­day, a spe­cially ex­panded fo­rum of seven judges ex­am­ined the case of a di­vorc­ing Ne­tanya cou­ple locked in dis­pute over the late cir­cum­ci­sion of their son.

The boy was not cir­cum­cised when he was eight days old, but a few months later, af­ter the cou­ple sep­a­rated, the fa­ther de­manded that their son un­dergo a bris.

The mother — who has cus­tody of the boy — re­fused, but the re­gional Beth Din ruled in favour of the fa­ther and handed her a fine of NIS 500 for ev­ery day she re­fuses to have her son cir­cum­cised.

The Supreme Court’s Judge Miryam Naor ruled that a dis­pute be­tween par­ents over a non­re­versible sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure on their son could not be part o f d i v o r c e h e a r i n g s a n d t h a t t h e B e t h Din had no author­ity to rule on it. Six out of the seven judges con­curred with that view.

Judge Naor ac­cepted that in some cir­cum­stances a court could or­der a par­ent to have his or her son cir­cum­cised, but that the proper venue for such pro­ceed­ings should be a civil­ian fam­ily court.

The rul­ing fol­lows pre­vi­ous de­ci­sions by the Supreme Court to limit the author­ity of the dayanim (re­li­gious judges) — the only ones al­lowed to grant di­vorces by Is­raeli law — while giv­ing additional pow­ers to the fam­ily courts to rule on ac­tual dis­putes be­tween di­vorc­ing cou­ples.

The rul­ing caused anger in re­li­gious cir­cles. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who is also pres­i­dent of the Supreme Beth Din, said: “This sym­bol­ises the wor­ry­ing trend of shrink­ing the author­ity of the Beth Din. “As the court pres­i­dent, I call on the Supreme Court pres­i­dent to hold an­other hear­ing on this is­sue, and re­verse this trou­bling de­ci­sion and end the ero­sion of the rab­bini­cal courts’ power.”

Arye Deri, leader of Shas, said that “the rul­ing is no less than scan­dalous”.


Yitzhak Yosef

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