Broyde on Lessons for Sharia Courts from the Beth Din in America

Michael J. Broyde (Emory U.) has posted Jewish Law Courts in America: Lessons Offered to Sharia Courts by the Beth Din of America Precedent. The abstract follows.

After a lengthy trial-and-error history, Jewish law in America has found a home in a well-defined and expansive system of Jewish law courts around the country referred to as batei din. The Beth Din of America (BDA), one of the nation’s most prominent rabbinic courts, was founded in 1960 to accommodate the portion of the Jewish community in America committed to living in accordance with both secular and religious law. For some time, batei din struggled to find their footing within the American legal system. Secular courts were initially uncomfortable upholding and enforcing decisions issued in accordance with what was essentially foreign law. Today, however, the BDA provides a sprawling network of Jewish law courts that function as arbitration panels (and more), offering litigants access to a religious forum marked by the characteristic expedience and affordability of the arbitration process. More significantly, the BDA has gained widespread acceptance among America’s secular courts, which, to date, have never overturned a BDA-issued decision. As the Muslim community in America embarks upon a quest to develop and refine its own religious court system, it should regard the BDA precedent as a useful navigation tool.

Although the BDA is now a fifty-year-old organization, its true metamorphosis as an arbitration panel began only in 1996 when it gained autonomy from the Rabbinical Council of America. Continue reading

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