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Supreme Court Overrules Rabbinical Supreme Court in Bris/Divorce Case

chnAn Israeli mother has petitioned the Supreme Court against a decision rendered by the Rabbinical Supreme Court which orders her to give her son a bris. Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger issued an interim order freezing the decision of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, which permits the mother to hold off with the bris.

The story surrounds divorce proceedings between a couple and their dispute over the matter of giving their son a bris. The case made its way to the Rabbinical Supreme Court, which ruled the child must have a bris, informing mom she would be fined 500 NIS each day the bris is delayed. Mom decided rather than comply; she would turn to the secular Supreme Court, which has frozen the beis din’s ruling, permitting the bris to be placed on hold once again. The child in question is now a year old.

What is actually in question here is the Rabbinical Supreme Court’s authority to compel the bris as a condition of granting a divorce. The petitioners representing the woman told the security High Court that the Rabbinical High Court exceeded its authority when it ordered the woman to have a bris done on the child against her will. In addition, petitioners felt the lower beis din exceeded its authority when ruling in favor of the father, to compel the bris, without permitting the mother adequate opportunity to respond and plead her case. The Ministry of Justice came to the mother’s side for it feels the lower beis din exceeded its authority, and the Rabbinical Supreme Court had no right to uphold that ruling. Hence the ministry filed with the secular Supreme Court to prevent compelling a bris.

The ministry pointed out in the petition to the High Court that to date the High Court has always abstained from including the issue of how children are educated as part of a divorce ruling, which often results in children living two lives as one parent is Shomer Shabbos and the other is not. Hence, depending where they spend a particular weekend will determine if that weekend is one of Shmiras Shabbos or Chilul Shabbos.

The secular Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon 16 Teves 5774 issued the order overruling the Rabbinical Supreme Court, with the latter holding up the ruling of the Netanya Beis Din.

In response to an Israeli mother’s Supreme Court petition against Rabbinate, Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel President Rabbi Uri Regev said, “the latest development in Israel’s circumcision controversy is another proof that we must end the Israeli rabbinical courts’ fundamentalist Orthodox monopoly over marriage, divorce, and custody battles (which have now come to include circumcision). Beyond the obvious need to review the rabbinical court’s order, It is high​ time to allow civil and non-Orthodox marriage and divorce, which are still not legal in Israel​.”

Regev noted that “the rabbinical courts have barged in on the traditional Jewish practice of circumcision like an elephant browsing in an antique shop. The decision, which should be exclusively based on ‘the best interests of the child,’ has been decided by such considerations as: circumcision is required to establish ‘the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel’ and ‘the procedure is necessary to prepare the Jewish soul for a life of Torah study.’ If anyone thought a religious court is the right place to solve this parental dispute,​ they should look at the rabbinical courts’ ruling, which proves otherwise.”

According to Regev, “The current government coalition has created a rare opportunity to adopt civil marriage and divorce in Israel and recognize marriage from all Jewish denominations. The latest developments in the circumcision case remind us how important it is to make the most of this opportunity before it is too late.”

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

2 Responses

  1. ‘the best interests of the child,’ If the supreme court really cared for the best interests of this child, the sooner this Beris is done, the less traumatic & painful & agonizing it will be.

  2. Anyone surprised at Israel secular court’s ruling? Actually in this case they might be right as it’s more likely than not the mother is Israeli but not Jewish. As someone mentioned in one of their sites, a Jew who is adamantly against their child being circumcised is most probably not Jewish. She, her mother or maternal grandmother might have gotten some kind of reform or unkosher conversion.

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