“The rabbinical court illegally acted outside its jurisdiction, in a manner that constitutes an obstruction of justice and extortion by the beit din and the rabbis operating it.…[this case] demonstrates the conflict between religion and state in Israel.…These practices do not only infringe on the rights and dignity of the members of these communities but are in direct breach of and threaten the Israeli Rule of Law as well."
High Court Of Justice Petition Seeks To Rescind Beit Din’s Order Of Excommunication
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com›
A woman in the haredi town of Elad, Israel wanted to stop her upstairs neighbor from completing illegal construction of a balcony that would block her own balcony from getting direct sunlight, and that would also make it impossible for her to build a sukkah on her own balcony due to halakha’s (Jewish law’s) requirement that no structure be located above the roof of a sukkah, Israel HaYom reported.
But the woman did not go to a beit din, as Jewish law requires, to resolve the dispute.
Instead, she went to the Petah Tikvah Magistrate's Court and got an injunction ordering her neighbor to cease construction immediately.
Her neighbor ignored the court’s injunction and instead went to a state-funded haredi-controlled beit din (Orthodox Jewish court), which issued a summons which has no legal standing and which the downstairs neighbor refused to answer.
So the beit din sent her a warning, along with an article about a man who failed to follow the beit din's orders and then died an early death.
She still refused to answer the beit din’s summons.
So on Yom Kippur the beit din reportedly issued a siruv, a writ of excommunication against the petitioner and against her her family. Pashkvils (large wall posters) were posted on the streets of Elad announcing her ‘crime’ and ordering Jews to behave toward her like she had "rebelled against the Torah of Moses.”
Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, a prominent Israeli religious freedom organization, took the woman’s case and petitioned the High Court of Justice to have the excommunication retracted.
“The rabbinical court illegally acted outside its jurisdiction, in a manner that constitutes an obstruction of justice and extortion by the beit din and the rabbis operating it.…[this case] demonstrates the conflict between religion and state in Israel.…These practices do not only infringe on the rights and dignity of the members of these communities but are in direct breach of and threaten the Israeli Rule of Law as well," Hiddush reportedly wrote in the High Court petition.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ordered that excommunications by rabbinic courts should be treated as criminal offenses, because beit dins have no legal right to extort citizens to try to prevent them from bringing cases to Israel’s secular court system. Weinstein noted that issuing excommunications and warning letters threatening excommunication and shunning may actually be obstruction of justice, tampering with testimony, hindering an investigation, harassing a witness and, in the most extreme cases, extortion and making criminal threats – all crimes punishable by prison sentences.
“Excommunications were originally intended to preserve the autonomy and the status of the judicial institutions of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, but beit dins now operate in Israel, which is a Jewish and democratic state,” Weinstein also noted.