Divorce - The Get
The Beth Din has produced an explanatory booklet dealing with all aspects of Get procedure. Whilst we endeavour to make this available to couples who are going through the process of religious divorce, it is of general interest. It is available on this site and copies will be forwarded by request to the Office of the Beth Din.
Click here to download a copy of 'THE GET' booklet
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According to Biblical Law, in the event of a woman losing her husband whilst childless cannot re-marry without either accepting an offer of marriage from her deceased husband’s brother or if she so wished by performing Chalitza. Nowadays, for halachic reasons the marital option is no longer permitted even if her husband’s brother is single. In order to free the widow to re-marry, she has to perform chalitza. This ancient biblical procedure involves removing a specially fashioned shoe from the foot of her brother-in-law, which symbolically frees the soul of her deceased husband and at the same time free her to re-marry. As childlessness has become less prevalent, chalitza has become quite rare in this country. Unfortunately, in the Israel, as a result of war and terrorism it still takes place all too often. It is considered meritorious to carry out chalitza even if the widow has no future plans to re-marry.
Gerus – Conversion
Whilst conversion is not something which Judaism promotes, the mechanism exists for sincere non-Jews to convert to Judaism. The Torah stresses the importance of welcoming the convert into the Jewish People and of being sensitive to their feelings and emotions. It can sometimes take considerable time for a convert to fully integrate – often more than one generation. The Beth Din receives applications from numerous people with varying motives for wishing to convert. These can include a genuine desire to link one’s destiny with the Jewish People, the most noble of motives. Unfortunately, conversion is also seen as a solution to an existing or proposed mixed marriage. The Beth Din judges each case on its merits and only considers those cases where the end result will produce a fully committed Jew or Jewess. This is essential as the Halachic validity of Orthodox conversion is based on a solemn undertaking to fulfil the totality of Judaism. The Manchester Beth Din acts in conjunction with the London Beth Din who will ultimately carry out the conversion procedures on the successful applicant. The Manchester Beth Din will conduct the initial interviews and arrange one to one tuition for potential converts. It will monitor progress and advise both the potential convert and the London Beth Din. Whilst not every applicant is suited to Orthodox Conversion, one must be aware that Reform “Conversion” is no solution to problems of Jewish status and may merely shift the focus to the next unfortunate generation who may well grow up believing that they are Jewish only to be devastated later in life. Unfortunately, not all conversion that is carried out by nominally Orthodox Botei Din are approved and therefore great care should be taken prior to embarking on a process of Conversion. The Beth Din is available to discuss Conversion issues with interested parties on the clear understanding that there is no commitment on either side. Such discussions will help to clarify the issues and whether indeed Conversion is the best and most appropriate path to follow.
As mentioned in the section dealing with Conversion, not all Convesions are acceptable. The Bet Din will often be called upon to decide on questions of status arising out of foreign conversions. Similarly questions can arise regarding the validity of marriages and divorces carried out by other Authorities. The opening up of Eastern Europe has resulted in many cases where Jewish status cannot be adequately proven by reference to documents producing many a challenging situation. The tragedy of children born of a mother who has not received a Get and who are therefore stignmatized with the name Mamzer is a situation of which most are aware. The inability of the issue of such a forbidden union to marry freely within the general community is intended to serve as the strongest possible deterrent to such unions. Anyone who has any concerns about their Jewish status or indeed their ability to prove their status is strongly advised to make contact with the Beth Din at the earliest opportunity to avoid having to deal with matters of this gravity under the additional pressure of a forthcoming marriage or BarMitzvah.
The Beth Din is experienced at advising couples who are contemplating adoption. Many faced with this option will have become aware that the opportunities for adopting a Jewish child are few and far between specially in this country. The Beth Din will advise and help you to consider all the options and possibilities including the adoption and subsequent conversion of a non-Jewish child. It is strongly advised that the Beth Din be contacted as early as possible in the adoption process. This is important as it is not always possible later on to verify status as the natural mother may have disappeared or have become disinterested in providing crucial information. In addition, if conversion of the child will be necessary, considerable life-style changes may well be required in order for the adoptive parents to qualify for conversion being performed on their adopted child. This can often involve difficult choices and decisions which are best made without the additional trauma of a child actually being involved. The Beth Din works together with the Local Authority, Social Services and Adoption agencies to ensure the most helpful and co-ordinated assistance being granted to those considering adoption.
Lost or Erroneous Kesubas
The Kesuba is the Jewish marriage document which is signed at the time of a wedding and contains undertakings by the husband towards his wife. This document belongs to the wife and should be kept safely preferably together with other important documents. The wife should be aware of its whereabouts. It will be necessary to produce this document when joining a Shul, requesting a Bris (circumcission) on a male child, enrolling a child in a Jewish school or at the time of arranging a child’s marriage. It may also be required at the time of a marital breakdown or when contemplating Aliyah (emigration) to Israel. Jewish Law legislated that a husband and wife should not reside together without a valid Kesuba. Therefore in the case of the document being lost, or defaced contact withy the Beth Din should be made so that a replacement can be issued. Similarly if a Kesuba is found to contain an error, a substitute should be written.
Translation of Documents
It is quite common for the English Courts or other agencies to require a document written in Hebrew to be translated and certified. The Beth Din stamp appears to satisfy this requirement. The most common such documents are Israeli Certificates of Birth or Marriage
Document of Single-Status
Those wishing to marry abroad will often be asked to provide a document from the Beth Din testifying to the fact that they are Jewish and single. This will be required by the Rabbi responsible for arranging the wedding ceremony. The Beth Din will require proof before issuing a document of this nature both as far as Jewish status is concerned and also that the applicant has not previously been married.