For many years, Rabbis from European communities struggled to determine the Jewish origin and personal status of many wishing to become members of the communities. As a result, the Rabbinical Centre of Europe has decided to establish a designated Beit Din that would oversee ascertaining the Jewish origins of the applicants in the best possible way.
A letter sent by the secretary of the RCE to hundreds of rabbis states that “There has been a long-standing struggle of the rabbis in European communities regarding the determination of personal status and information about the Jewish origin of many who wish to join and become members of the communities in Europe, as well as requests for marriage, burial and the like.
“This is an issue faced by hundreds of rabbis, and because the matter has little oversight, each rabbi has had to act according to his personal discretion, which has generated a tremendous void, as individual rabbis have had to take on a huge responsibility, without the oversight of an official beit din affirming the decisions on who is Jewish.
In light of this, many requests were received from the rabbis to establish a special court for ascertaining Judaism and issuing Jewish-identity certificates. As such, we are happy to announce that the RCE decided at its last meeting to establish such a court that will answer all matters of clarifying Judaism and personal status.”
The beit din will be led by: Rabbi Pinchas Leibush Padwa, Chief Rabbi and Av Beit Din Shomrei Hadas, Antwerp, Belgium; Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Inter-Provincial Chief Rabbinate of the Netherlands and Director of Holland’s Vaad Harabbanim, Amsterdam, Holland; and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Kahn, dayan and posek for the Lubavitch Community – Paris.
The letter concludes: “The beit din will receive recommendations from Jewish origin researchers and investigators who are recognized by them. At its discretion, the beit din will decide whether to confirm an applicant’s Jewish status. On behalf of the members of the Rabbinical Presidium and Council of Europe, we are calling on all the rabbis of the European communities to contact the above-mentioned court regarding the determination of personal status and Jewish origin to protect and prevent the Jewish people from serious situations.”