The Vaad’s Bais Din (Court of Jewish Law) has an established reputation for fairness and integrity. Operating solely for the benefit of the community, the Bais Din provides an affordable venue for Dinei Torah (legal adjudication) that is accessible to all. The Bais Din ensures the highest level of accuracy and sensitivity in it’s Gittin and Piskei Din (decisions of the court).
A case is initiated when the plaintiff (Toveah) brings a grievance before the Vaad and requests that the defendant (Nitvah) be summoned to the Bais Din for a Din Torah. Other than a brief description of the claim, the Bais Din will not listen to any details of the case nor will it hear testimony or review evidence to support either side until a formal session of the Bais Din is convened. To maintain the utmost degree of impartiality, the Bais Din may not hear one side of a dispute unless the opposing side is present. A judge who has preconceived opinions or any other prejudice must recluse himself from the case.
A summons to appear before Bais Din is sent to the defendant. A Jew is obliged to respond to the Bais Din’s summons and appear before the court. If the defendant does not respond, the Bais Din will send the summons twice more before issuing a Siruv.
A Siruv is a judgment of contempt. One who ignores a summons or refuses to appear before Bais Din may be found in contempt of Bais Din. Such a person is placed under a ban of excommunication. He must conduct himself as though in mourning until the ban is lifted. He is shunned by the community until he corrects the situation. In the case of a contemptuous defendant, the Bais Din may grant permission for the plaintiff to pursue his case in the secular courts.
When the defendant responds to a summons, the administrator of the Vaad will work to set a hearing time and date that is mutually convenient. Typically, a Bais Din session lasts approximately two hours. A complex case may require multiple sessions. Both parties will be asked to sign a binding arbitration agreement (Shtar Berurim). The agreement ensures that the Bais Din decision is upheld by all. A legally binding document, it makes the ruling of the Bais Din enforceable in civil court. After the binding arbitration agreement is completed, the plaintiff presents his case in the presence of the defendant who is then given the opportunity to defend himself. Each side is given ample time to present documents and testimonies in support of their respective positions. After questioning both sides, the Bais Din will issue its decision in keeping with the guidelines set forth in Shulchan Orech. Often, the Bais Din members will postpone their decision for several days so that they may discuss the case among themselves and properly weigh the merits of each side’s argument.
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