October 18, 2006


Rabbis tout Jewish option to courts (Matthew Wagner, Oct. 18, 2006, THE JERUSALEM POST)

With a vision in their hearts of an Israeli state run in accordance with Jewish legal tradition, a group of leading religious Zionist rabbis and experts in Jewish law met in Jerusalem Tuesday evening for the official launch of a chain of rabbinic courts that aspires to replace the civil court system.

"Who is smarter, Aharon Barak or Maimonides?" the press release promoting the launch asked rhetorically, assuming it is clear to all that the 12th-century halachic authority is the correct answer.

"Then why do you prefer Israeli law to Jewish law?" asks the PR notice, chastising those unfaithful Israelis who forsake Judaism's rich legal tradition for Israel's mishmash of British and Ottoman law.

The initiative is called Gazit, which was the name of the historic venue of the Sanhedrin on the Temple Mount before the destruction of the Temple. Unlike the parochial haredi rabbinic courts, which serve ultra-Orthodox enclaves, Gazit men (women cannot be rabbinic judges) aspire to reach all walks of Israeli society. These rabbis and Jewish legal experts want Israelis - religious and secular, male and female, Jewish and gentile - to settle their monetary disputes and torts the Jewish way. Turning to civil courts, they say, shows a lack of Jewish pride.

Gazit, which is a union of nine rabbinical monetary courts scattered across the country, can decide on a wide variety of cases from cellular phone antenna disputes to salary delays to car accidents to intellectual property claims - all according to a 2,000-year-old legal tradition.

Assuming Gazit adheres to accepted legal procedure, its decisions would be enforced by the district courts like any other arbitration body.

Gentlemen, start your difference engines....

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2006 12:00 AM

It's a well-known fact that Islam is just like Judaism, but with an extra Y chromosome.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at October 19, 2006 12:10 AM