As our commitment to all Manchester communities and beyond the Manchester Beth Din offers the following services.
Supervision of local Supermarkets, Restaurants, take aways and caterers
Protecting Shechita and other religious practices
Jewish Court of Law
The prime function of a Beth Din, as its name denotes, is to function as a Court of Law dealing with all matters that fall within Jewish Civil Law. It is indeed incumbent on Jewish Communities to set up a Beth Din for this very purpose. The Beth Din will rule according to Jewish Civil Law although by virtue of the dictum that the Law of the Country is The Law it will often import decisions based on English Civil Law. Judaism views very seriously the failure of a claimant to have the issue heard and dealt with within the framework of a Beth Din. It similarly decries the decision of a defendant who refuses to attend a Beth Din when called. Within the framework of arbitration, there exists the opportunity to compromise, although strict Law is available should that be what the parties request. Cases are normally heard by one Dayan (Judge) although it is open to the parties to request three Dayanim should they so wish. Parties may be represented either professionally or otherwise should they so wish, although the relative informality of a Beth Din makes it easy for a party to cope without representation. The fact that a Din Torah is run on an inquisitorial basis with a heavy emphasis on a lucid presentation of the facts as opposed to learned legal arguments means that a competent person will be able to address the Beth Din directly without resorting to appointing a professional spokesman. Nevertheless, many opt to be represented by a solicitor or barrister and their presence is welcomed. The parties are given the opportunity to address the Beth Din as often as they require, to bring witnesses and documentary evidence and to examine each other’s evidence. A written Award will be provided to both parties at the conclusion of a case. Both parties will be asked to sign a Deed of Arbitration whereby they submit themselves to the sole jurisdiction of the Beth Din. Failure to discharge the Award will allow the injured party to present the Deed of Arbitration and the written Award to the Civil Courts, who will, in the vast majority of cases, honour and enforce the decision of the Beth Din. In the event of the summons to attend being ignored, the claimant may apply to the Beth Din for a permit to transfer the case to the Civil Courts and this will readily be granted. Jewish Law dictates that in the absence of a prior arrangement between the parties, no claim for costs is allowed. The Beth Din charges are relatively inexpensive and are shared equally between the parties. The Beth Din will often request payment of its fees prior to issuing the Award. The Beth Din will not require full details of the claim, nor will it insist that the defendant is given documentary evidence prior to the hearing. This will depend on the nature of the claim. The machinery is set in motion by a written letter to the Registrar giving the bare bones of the case and asking that the other party be summoned. The Beth Din will only do this if it feels that a prima facie case exists. There is no formal application document although the request to the Beth Din must be in writing. There is normally a small charge at this stage to commence the proceedings.
The Beth Din is happy to deal with suitable issues by way of mediation. This is often possible when there is much common-ground between the parties as well as a genuine interest to settle. Thus, for instance, in cases of debt where the obligation is acknowledged but the ability to re-pay restricted, a settlement involving a realistic programme of payment can be agreed between the parties, facilitated by a Beth Din official. Obviously, mediation has the drawback of not being legally binding and therefore not enforceable. It is only used in cases where there is much goodwill and where the risk of non-compliance is absent.
As is well known, in general, Jewish Law does not permit the taking or paying of interest. Whilst in cases where money is lent in order to relieve poverty, this may not present a problem, where a loan takes place in a commercial setting as with mortgages, bank loans or similar situations, the inability to allow ones capital to be productive can be crippling. In order to meet this challenge, Jewish Law has devised a document called a Heter Iska which has the basic effect of turning a loan on interest into an investment for profit. A formal document must be signed and this will govern the nature of the relationships. In view of the complexity of the agreement and the need to ensure that the document matches the particular case, it is essential that the situation is brought before the Beth Din or a competent Rabbi.
According to Jewish Law, the Sabbatical Year known as the Shemitta Year has a number of halachic effects. Whilst the majority relate to the world of agriculture and the prohibition to refrain from much productive activity, it also has the effect of cancelling all outstanding debts. When it was seen that this had a detrimental effect on lenders in that they were reticent to lend if the debt were to become unenforceable, a device was constructed known as the Pruzbul. Basically this has the effect of substituting the Beth Din for the lender which then permits the debt to be claimed. This is because Shemitta is deemed only to impact on personal debts but not on those payable to a Beth Din. The Beth Din, in turn, allows the lender to claim the debt for himself. The Pruzbul is normally signed towards the end of the Shemitta Year in time to ensure that the conclusion of that year does not invalidate one’s debts. The Beth Din circulates pre-printed forms for this purpose.
Jewish Divorce - The Get Service
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.
'The Get' booklet is available for download, if you would like a hard copy please contact the office.
If you are going through a divorce and would like to start the proceedings please be in touch with our office on 0161 740 9711 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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. View photos in gallery of a Chlitza
Conversion - Geirus
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 Beth 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 stigmatised 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 Bar Mitzvah.
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.
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 (circumcision) 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 with 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.
Sale of Chometz
Jewish Law does not permit ownership of Chometz during the Passover period. In the event of it not being disposed of, it is forbidden for use after Passover. In order to avoid the prohibition and ensuing penalty, the Beth Din, in liaison with the Rabbonim arrange for people to sell their Chometz to a non-Jew by means of a special letter of authority and power of attorney. Whilst the sale is in perpetuity, the non-Jew is traditionally kind enough to sell back the chometz at the termination of the Festival allowing it to be eaten by its Jewish owner. The same device is used for selling the stock of Jewish shops and wholesalers to enable them to continue trading after Passover.
It is clear that when the Manchester Jewish Community was founded the responsibility for the provision of a Mikva was incumbent on each Synagogue. Thus, for instance, the Manchester Great Synagogue, situated on Cheetham Hill Road had its own Mikva. With the expansion of the Community and the opening of many more Synagogues it became clear that the provision of this facility required a communal approach. This was precisely the same scenario as with shechita and kashrus.
Thus, whilst from its earliest years the Board had made grants out of its surplus income to the Mikva in Broughton and Cheetham, in 1950, incorporated into the Constitution of the Board is a responsibility to maintain a Beth Din, to provide burial facilities for the poor and to provide Mikva facilities, the basic building blocks of a community. This duty came to realisation with the opening of the Manchester Communal Mikva in Tetlow Lane, the brainchild of Dayan J.J. Weisz ztl. the renowned Av Beis Din of the Manchester Beth Din.
In more recent years, with the expansion of the Community, Mikvas have opened in Whitefield and in Hale, both of which are under the Halachic authority of the Manchester Beth Din.
Broome Holme, 47Tetlow Lane, Salford 7 M7 4BU
Lady Attendant: (Appointments for Friday and Yom Tov eves) (0161) 740 4071
(During opening hours only) 792 3970
Tevilas Keilim Mikva: Broome Holme, Tetlow Lane, Salford 7
Whitefield Hebrew Congregation, Park Lane, Whitefield
Use by appointment only: Answerphone 796 1054 or 796 5761
Tevilas Keilim Mikva: Whitefiled Hebrew Congregation, Park Lane, Whitefield - by arrangement with the Shul Office 766 3732
Naomi Greenberg South Manchester Mikva:
Hale Synagogue, Shay Lane, Hale Barns Use by appointment only 904 8296
Tevilas Keilim Mikva: Hale Synagogue, Shay Lane, Hale Barns
The Beth Din supervises three shaatnez laboratories to ensure that they operate within the halacha. This obligation to ensure that clothes do not contain a mixture of wool and linen fibres is unfortunately much neglected. Schools and Organisations wishing to have a shaatnez testing demonstration are welcome to call the Beth Din which will be happy to make the necessary arrangements. For a list of MK approved labs please look at our licensees.
The Beth Din publishes an annual Luach. This can be downloaded in pdf form from this web-site. The reverse side of the Luach is replete with information regarding the Authority’s licencees and other associated information. A copy of the luach can be downloaded from the footer of this website.
One of the jewels in the crown of the Manchester Community is the Voluntary Chevra Kadisha. Established on the initiative of Dayan Ch. Ehrentreu during his period as Av Beth Din it is comprised of a dedicated team of men and women who perform the sacred act of preparing the body for burial according to our ancient traditions. The Chevra are ably assisted by Messrs Goldfine the community’s professional undertakers who carry out their work with dignity and sensitivity. The Beth Din is actively involved in the day to day running of the Chevra Kadisha from both a practical and halachic perspective. In keeping with common practice, the men of the Chevra undertake an annual fast coupled with special Tefilos. The ladies, on the other hand are encouraged to make a charitable donation in lieu of fasting. Following the fast, an annual banquet takes place, hosted by the Manchester and District Council of Synagogues. This is the community’s opportunity to thank the Chevra members for their devotion as well as to further encourage the members to continue their holy work. If you are interested in joining the chevra please apply
Hospital and Prison Visitation
Whilst Synagogue Ministers visit their own members as part of their congregational duties and lay visitors are allocated by the Fed, the Beth Din is responsible for ensuring the efficacy of the Jewish Chaplaincy service. All hospitals which are likely to have Jewish patients have allocated to them a member of the clergy to act as their official Jewish Chaplain. The extent of responsibilities depends to a great extent on the patient level. Thus North Manchester General which has the highest number of Jewish patients also has the most active chaplaincy service. The chaplains bring much needed spiritual in-put to the patients, seek to ensure that their religious needs are being met and advise them as required on any religious issues that they may have. In some cases the chaplains also plays a role, in an advisory capacity to the Hospital on matters appertaining to Judaism. Where this function is not carried out by the Chaplain, the role is undertaken by the Beth Din. The Beth Din works hand in hand with Ezra Care, an organisation which deserves communal acclaim for the creation of Shabbos Rooms in a number of hospitals. The Beth Din has negotiated with various Hospital Trusts in an endeavour to seek some reimbursement, at least for expenses, for the Chaplains and administers the allocation of these expenses. Liaison with other Agencies The Beth Din is seen as the obvious resource for Halachic and religious information. It plays a significant consultancy role in advising the various Organisations that make up the fabric of our Community. These include establishments dealing with social welfare, education and other communal matters. This area of work is however, not limited to Jewish agencies. The Beth Din is regularly consulted by Local Authorities, Social Services, the Health Authority, the Police, schools and many other establishments to seek clarification of matters appertaining to Judaism. This has included the Beth Din offering courses in Cultural Awareness to a number of agencies and especially to local hospitals.
The Communal Burial Board
The burial of the poor was one of the self-imposed duties of the Manchester Shechita Board from its very inception. Only four days after the very first meeting of the Board in January 1892, it met again and resolved to seek tenders from the Synagogues to carry out the burial of the poor. In it first year, the Board paid some £125 out of its income to the Old Hebrew Congregation who undertook to provide free burial to the poor in return for this grant. This figure fluctuated over three decades peaking at £573 in 1923.
For some years prior to this the Board had been concerned that the cost of paying others to use their graves for this burial could soon become prohibitive. The Board therefore sought to purchase its own burial area so as to be self sufficient. This came to fruition in 1925 with the opening of the Communal Burial Ground, a section of Rainsough Cemetery in Prestwich. The Board provided the sum of £599 towards the cost of commissioning the cemetery.
The Communal Burial Board, was thus not liable for having to purchase graves but nevertheless had a responsibility together with its partners the North Manchester Synagogue (later the Central and North Manchester) and the Higher Broughton (later the Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton) to maintain the cemetery. This is a responsibility it maintains to this day at considerable expense.
A second liability was the paying of fees to the Manchester and District Council of Synagogues for undertaking services. As the funding for the Communal Burial Board was based on those few cases where money from the family was available, the burden of maintaining this service became more and more onerous. The offer by the Synagogue Council it would fund the undertaker’s fees were more than welcomed.
During 2006/7 the Rainsough Trust, a charity set up by a number of local entrepreneurs worthy of great praise, raised substantial funds to improve the burial ground. The Communal Burial Board benefited great from the land reclamation scheme that took place which provided it with a new area of available grave space for its own needs as well as the opportunity to sub-let some grave spaces in return for financial assistance with maintenance costs.
The Communal Burial Board has come a long way since it made its first grant at the end of the nineteenth century. However, it still continues to fulfil its sacred obligation of providing a dignified burial and resting place for those indigent members of the Community.