About the Beth Din
Beth Din Zedek Ecclesiastical Judicature of the Chicago Rabbinical Council
What is a Beth Din?
The Beth Din (also spelled Bais Din or Beth Din) is the Rabbinic Court of the cRc. It is guided and led by our Av Beth Din (Chief of the Rabbinic Court), Rabbi Yona Reiss, Shlit”a, a noted Torah scholar, attorney and jurist.
The Beth Din
- Hears and resolves cases involving Jewish law and financial disputes.
- Responds to all queries related to the practice and theory of our way of life.
- Issues Gittin (Jewish divorces), certificates of Geirut (conversions), and Teudot Ravakut (certificates attesting to the status of the Jewish person) which are internationally recognized and accepted by the Israeli Rabbinate.
Throughout the ages Jewish communities have settled their internal differences and quarrels within the confines of their own borders, primarily by men and women appearing before a Beth Din, a court of rabbis who were experts in Jewish law. The decision that was binding upon litigants was based upon the principles of justice and fairness, with the ultimate goal of preserving peace within the society.
Evolution of the cRc Beth Din
Many years ago the Chicago Rabbinical Council created a Beth Din to function in this field, and the dignity of Chicago Jewry was greatly enhanced by this establishment. As the reputation of the Beth Din grew, the number of cases brought before it rapidly increased until it became imperative to appoint a full-time chief rabbinical judge.
In 1987, the Chicago Rabbinical Council appointed to this position a highly distinguished, nationally recognized Torah scholar, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, ZT”L, whose published halachic decisions had earned world-wide respect. Our community found Rabbi Schwartz, ZT”L, to be a warm personality, an intelligent student of the needs of a contemporary community, a gifted and popular spokesman for the welfare of all the people in Metropolitan Chicago, and a wise mediator in a broad variety of difficult situations resulting from the frictions of human understanding. It has frequently been remarked that one of the best things the Chicago Rabbinical Council did in the first sixty years of its existence was to bring Rabbi Schwartz, ZT”L, to our city.
In 2013 the Chicago Rabbinical Council appointed Rabbi Yona Reiss, Shlit”a, to the position of Av Beth Din. Rav Reiss achieved a distinguished career including Dean of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. From 1998 to 2008, Rabbi Reiss served as Director of the Beth Din of America. The Av Beth Din is renowned for both his Torah and secular legal scholarship, as well as for being a wise and insightful mediator and communal spokesman.
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