The EBD provides the full range of Beth Din services, which include the following areas:
Supervision of Jewish Religious Divorce - Gittin (Jewish Divorce)
The EBD arranges and oversees Jewish religious divorces, halachically referred to as a Get. The EBD strives to ensure that religious divorces are carried out in a sensitive and caring manner, with respect for the dignity of all participants in the process. The Beth Din subscribes to the highest standards of Jewish law to ensure the universal acceptance of Gittin administered under its auspices. The EBD also takes an active role in resolving cases involving spouses who refuse or are reluctant to grant or to receive a Get.
Sensitivity – The EBD is careful to treat every person with sensitivity and compassion and tries to make the Get process as smooth and comfortable as possible for all parties involved. The Beth Din has female staff members who are available to provide emotional and moral support to women who come to the Beth Din for a Get. Participants are also free to bring a friend to accompany them during the Get proceeding. A standard Get procedure is non-adversarial and does not involve litigation. If necessary, the Get process may be arranged in a manner that does not require the husband and wife to appear together.
Cases are normally heard by a panel of three Dayanim or, on occasion, one single Dayan.
Expert Arbitration Judges - The Dayanim who sit in such cases include leading authorities on Jewish law, as well as lawyers and businessmen who are familiar with secular law and contemporary commercial practices. When appropriate, the Beth Din will either include expert professionals on an arbitration panel or consult them as expert witnesses.
Procedural Fairness - The EBD maintains an impartial and confidential relationship with each, and all parties involved in a Din Torah. Hearings take place in conformity with the Rules and Procedures of the Beth Din.
Legally Binding Rulings - Prior to having a case heard by the EBD, litigants are required to enter into a binding arbitration agreement. The Beth Din conducts its proceedings in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of secular arbitration law, pursuant to the New York Arbitration Convention, so that the rulings of the Beth Din are legally binding and internationally enforceable in the secular court system:
Confidentiality - The EBD recognises that personal halachic status investigations often involve inquiries into confidential personal and familial information. The Beth Din staff employs the utmost sensitivity and discretion when handling these matters and respects the confidentiality of all parties involved.
Expertise - The EBD, under the leadership of its Av Beth Din, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, is a recognised authority in investigating and ruling on issues of Jewish halachic status. The Beth Din’s determinations and halachic rulings are respected across the Jewish world, both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
The Goals of the European Beth Din of the Conference of European Rabbis:
- To serve Jewish communities in countries with no permanent and authorised Beth Din.
- To arbitrate ethical issues between Rabbis who are members of the CER.
- To respond and provide relevant guidance to halachic queries raised by the public.
- To resolve internal conflicts within Jewish communities by means of expert mediation and arbitration.
- To ensure that European Jewry is afforded top quality Beth Din services of the highest halachic standard in all areas of Jewish Law.
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Why is a Get Necessary? - In order to end a Jewish marriage, halachah requires that a Get be willingly given. Even after undergoing a civil divorce, in the absence of a Get, neither husband nor wife would be able to remarry or be involved with another partner as, according to halachah, they are still married to each other.
The Get Process – The EBD is able to conduct the Get process in English, Hebrew, and if necessary, by another language spoken by the parties. The actual Get proceeding takes approximately 90 minutes. The officiating Dayan asks the parties some standard questions to ascertain their names (since the Get document must accurately identify the parties) and their desire to proceed with the Get process. The Get is written by a ritual scribe and signed by two authorised witnesses. The husband then presents the Get to the wife in the presence of the witnesses, thus effecting the divorce under Jewish law. Once the Get has been received by the wife, the Get parchment is cut by the supervising Dayan and it is stored in the Beth Din archives. The Beth Din issues a certificate (known as a p’tor) to both the husband and the wife. This is normally done once the civil divorce has also been finalised, at which point each party is free to remarry, within the parameters established by halachah.
Contested Get Cases - The EBD does everything in its power to avoid Agunah cases (i.e., cases involving a spouse who refuses to give a get, notwithstanding the functional dissolution of the marriage), and specialises in the resolution of Get cases involving a recalcitrant spouse who refuses or is reluctant to give or receive a Get.
Matrimonial Mediation/Arbitration - In addition to the Get process, the EBD maintains an active practice in matrimonial cases dealing with property division, and in cases where the law of the land allows, custody and visitation agreements.
Should the EBD be called upon to mediate and/or arbitrate on any of the aforementioned matrimonial matters, the Beth Din will convene a Din Torah (Jewish Arbitration Proceeding) in accordance with the requirements of Halachah, in the presence of expert Dayanim. experienced in adjudicating divorce cases. When appropriate and legally allowed to do so, the Beth Din may call on the services of a child psychologist, as an expert witness, to assist the panel in deciding custody and visitation matters.
The EBD’s Prenuptial Agreement is the most effective tool available to prevent future cases of Agunah, should a marriage break down. The Beth Din strongly urges its use by all couples who are getting married.
Dispute Resolution by Mediation and/or Arbitration - Din Torah
The EBD has great expertise in Alternative Dispute Resolution by means of Mediation and/or Arbitration as part of a Din Torah. The Beth Din has worked with Jews across the religious and ideological spectrum and has earned a sterling reputation for handling dispute resolution cases in a professional and confidential manner, in full keeping with Halachah and secular law.
Types of Cases Handled - The EBD and its Dayanim regularly arbitrate a wide range of disputes among parties, ranging in value from small claims to litigations involving several million Euros. These cases include (amongst others):
- Commercial (such as employer-employee; landlord-tenant; real-estate and property; business interference; breach of contract; breach of fiduciary duty; investor mismanagement; defective merchandise and unfair competition disputes).
- Communal (such as rabbinic contract disputes and other congregational issues).
- Familial (such as family business, inheritance and matrimonial) disputes.
Personal Status Determinations
The EBD handles enquiries regarding the personal halachic status of individuals. These include questions relating to confirmation of being halachically Jewish, of being a Kohen, of being married or unmarried according to halachah, as well as situations where certain groups may or may not marry in accordance with Jewish Law.
Teudot Yahadut Viravakut – Certificate of being Jewish and Single
Rabbis performing marriages, including under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel, will often require evidence that the parties wishing to get married are halachically Jewish, single and may marry each other. The Beth Din investigates the Jewish and unmarried status of individuals and, when appropriate, will issue a certificate confirming such status. Certificates issued by the EBD are recognised by the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel, as well as by all Rabbinical authorities across the Jewish world.
The Halachic definition of a Jew is one who is born of a Jewish mother or has converted according to the Halachah, that is to say, in a way consistent with the requirements of Jewish law. Judaism is not a proselytising religion in that it does not actively seek to convert non-Jews to the faith. Nevertheless, Judaism is accepting of any person who sincerely wishes to belong to the Jewish people. By definition, conversion entails a commitment to a fully observant and practising Jewish lifestyle. Throughout the ages, people have converted to Judaism. Some of these converts have made a significant contribution to the Jewish people. Once a person is converted, he is considered fully Jewish in every respect. The Beth Din is invested by Jewish law with the authority and responsibility to judge objectively, the sincerity and suitability of our applicants. In doing so, its concern is not just to maintain standards of Jewish law and to be the guardian of Jewish status but to ensure that it is acting in a way that is best for the applicant. Changing one’s faith, in particular when it involves taking on the stringent standards of Jewish observance, is a huge undertaking. It should not be pursued because of some idealised notion of what it means to be a Jew, as a gesture of personal sacrifice for the sake of love, or in the expectation that it will resolve a mental or emotional anguish. Indeed, there should be no ulterior motive other than the genuine desire to join the Jewish people and its destiny.
Quite apart from the fact that conversion for ulterior motives is Halachically flawed, conversion for the wrong reasons can also lead to deep personal unhappiness and inner conflict. The EBD will sympathetically consider an application for conversion from any person who sincerely wishes to be a Jew or Jewess. The condition for accepting any applicant for conversion, is that the Beth Din must be satisfied, that the applicant wishes to convert to Judaism for the sake of Judaism and would follow its path even if the relationship were to break down.