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February 18, 1983 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-02-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Ruling Says Ketubor May
Be Enforced by State Court

NEW YORK — The
state's highest court, the
New York State Court of
Appeals, ruled Tuesday
that Jewish marriage con-
tracts (Ketubot) that re-
quire spouses to obtain di-
vorces from special reli-
gious panels may be
enforced by state courts.
According to the New
York Times, in a 4-3 ruling
the court decided that
ketubot are binding civil
contracts as well as reli-
gious covenants.
Writing for the majority,
Associate Judge Sol Wach-
tler stated: "That the obli-
gations undertaken by the
parties to the ketuba are
grounded in religious belief
and practice does not pre-
clude enforcement of its
secular terms.
"Nor does the fact that
all of the ketuba's pro-
visions may not be judi-
cially recognized prevent
the court from enforcing
that portion of the
agreement by which the
parties promised to refer
their disputes to a non-
judicial forum," he wrote.
The Times continued:
"In dissent, Associate
Judge Hugh R. Jones as-
serted that judicial in-
volvement in the case
marked an unconstitutional
intrusion into questions of
Jewish religious law and
tradition. Granting any re-
lief, he wrote, 'would neces-
sarily violate the constitu-
tional prohibition against
entanglement of our secular
courts in matters of reli-
gious and ecclesiastical con-
tent.'
"The ruling, believed to
be the first of its kind in the
country, was hailed by var-
ious Orthodox and Conser-
vative Jewish groups. They
contended it would force re-
calcitrant spouses to honor
contractual obligations and
would make it easier for
Jewish couples seeking di-
vorces to do so within the
faith.
"In recent years,
Jewish spouses, in most
cases the husbands, have
effectively prevented
their mates from obtain-
ing Jewish divorces. The
spouses can do so by fail-
ing to appear before a
special panel, known as a
beth din.
"Only such panels can

(

Activities

.
in Society

Detroiters, including
members of Bloch-Rose Post
and Auxiliary of the Jewish
War Veterans, gathered re-
cently at the Spyglass club
house in Ft. Lauderdale,
Fla. Among them were
Messrs. and Mesdames
Morris (Doris) Adelstein,
Morris (Rita) Elken, George
(Rose) Karden, Harry (Be-
tty)._ Katzman, Sol (Flo)
Leider, Harry (Marion)
Moss, Lou (Janie) Remer,
Julius (Phyllis) Siegel, Sam
(Evelyn) Skupsky, Bill
(Blanche) Yanofsky and
Gerry Feldman and Freddie
Karden.

grant a Jewish divorce,
which is called a get. Both
parties to the divorce must
appear in person before the
panel for the divorce to be
granted.
"Without a get, Jews are
unable to remarry within
the Orthodox and Conser-
vative branches of the faith,
even though they have ob-
tained civil divorces.
"Jewish law further pro-
vides that children born to
women who remarry civilly
without a get are illegiti-
mate. The children of men
who do so are considered
legitimate under Jewish
law.
For those women who
are dedicated to living
their lives consistent with
the precepts of Judaism,
this ruling should allow
them to obtain gets with-
out the kinds of litigation,
harassment and other
undue burdens imposed
by their spouses,' said
Robert J. Jossen of the
Jewish Theological Sem-
inary of America, which
signed a friend-of-the-
court brief in the case.
"Also participating in the
case were the Union of Or-
thodox Jewish Congrega-
tions, the Rabbinical Coun-
cil of America, and the Na-
tional Jewish Committee on
Law and Public Affairs.
"The decision was at-
tacked by the New York
Civil Liberties Union,
which said the court was
`enforcing a religious tenet'
in violation of the First
Amendment.
"The court's decision
came in the case of Susan
Roe Avitzur of Albany, who,
though legally divorced in
1978, has since been unable
to remarry within the Or-
thodox or Conservative
branches of the faith be-
cause her estranged hus-
band would not appear be-
fore a beth din.
"She subsequently
sued Mr. Avitzur for
breach of contract, and a
state trail court agreed to
hear the case. But her suit
was later dismissed by
the Appellate Division of
State Supreme Court,
Third Department, which
held that the ketuba was
a liturgical document
with no legal effect in
secular courts.
"In his opinion, Judge
Wachtler stressed that Mrs.
Avitur was seeking simply
to compel her former hus-
band `to perform a secular
obligation to which he con-
tractually bound himself.'
He compared the ketuba to
other secular agreements,
such as pledges to submit all
disputes to arbitration.
" 'This agreement — the
ketuba — should ordinarily
be entitled to no less dignity
than any other civic con-
tract to submit a dispute to a
nonjudicial forum, so long
as its enforcement violates
neither the law nor the pub-
lic policy of this state,'
Judge Wachtler wrote."
- -
Some 1.4 million Jews
served in the various armies
in World War II.

Tuition Tax Credit Issue
Divides Jewish Community

WASHINGTON — A
Minnesota tuition tax-
credit law, currently being
debated in the U.S. Sup-
reme Court, has created a
division between the Or-
thodox and non-Orthodox
Jewish community.
The Minnesota law per-
mits parents of the students
in elementary and secon-
dary schools, both private
and public, to take a deduc-
tion of up to $700 per year,
per child, to cover the cost of
tuition, books and transpor-
tation. Iowa, North Dakota,
South Dakota and Wiscon-
sin all have similar laws.
A friend-of-the-court
brief filed by the American
Jewish Congress contends
that such deductions are
unconstitutional. A brief
filed by Agudat Israel of

ADL Mission
Monitors Mexico

NEW YORK — A fact
finding mission of 21
American Jewish commu-
nity leaders returned from
Mexico last month reas-
sured about the situation of
Mexican Jewry.
The mission spent five
days in Mexico investigat-
ing two concerns of the
Jewish community there: a
barrage of anti-Zionist and
anti-Semitic propaganda
during and after the war in
Lebanon and the possibility
that Jews would be
scapegoated for the coun-
try's severe economic crisis.
Led by Alvin Steinberg,
chairman of the Commu-
nity Service Division of the
Anti-Defamation League of
Bnai Brith, and Philip
Aronoff, chairman of the
Young Leadership Commit-
tee of ADL's southwest
regional office, the group
met with Mexican govern-
ment officials, U.S. and Is-
raeli ambassadors and
leaders of the "Comite Cen-
tral Israelita," the umbrella
organization of the Mexican
Jewish community.

Pregnancy Tests
on the Market

JERUSALEM — Major
strides in pregnancy detec-
tion have recently been
made by two Israeli
laboratories which may
soon be competing with
each other on the interna-
tional market.
The two organizations,
Zer Science Based Indus-
tries, Ltd., and the Teva
Group, Israel, have de-
veloped pregnancy testing
kits which offer very early
results and the convenience
of performing the test in the
privacy of home.
The Zer kit, called Pre-
gnopost, offers the earliest
diagnosis of pregnancy. The
Teva kit, as yet unnamed,
provides a nearly instant
answer. Both are patented,
and both have been ap-
proved by the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration. Both
firms are negotiating with
American multi-national
corporations for interna-
tional distribution.

America and eight other
Orthodox agencies claims
that there is no difference
between deducations for
tuition and other related
schooling expenses for
pupils of parochial schools,
and charitable contribu-
tions to such schools and
other religious institutions.
Agudat Israel has
charged that the AJCon-
gress, in filing their brief, is
guilty of "Irresponsible be-
havior" because they are
"fighting the interests of
Jewish education."
The AJCongress re-
sponded that the Minnesota
law grants tax deductions
for parents of children
attending both public and
private schools, but, since
public schools are prohib-
ited by law (in Minnesota)
from charging tuition, in
reality, the law only affects
parents of children who
attend private schools.

Marriages

Wallenberg Petition Campaign

MIAMI — The American
Anti-Nazi Association has
begun a petition campaign
in support of awarding a
Nobel Prize to Raoul Wal-
lenberg, the Swedish dip-
lomat who saved thousands
of Hungarian Jews during
World War II.
The association is seeking
one million signatures on
behalf of Wallenberg, who
many believe is still held in
a Soviet prison following his
arrest by the Russians in
1945.
To obtain a petition, send
a long-stamped, self-
addressed envelope to Rabbi

Rubin R. Dobin, Free Raoul
Wallenberg Campaign,
POB 6194, Miami Beach,
Fla. 33154.

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