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Rabbinical Council
of California

617 S. Olive St.
Suite 515
Los Angeles, CA 90014
ph. (213) 489-8080
fax. (213) 489-8077



(Spring 2003)

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The Eruv of metropolitan Los Angeles is under the halachic supervision of the Rabbinical Council of California.  For complete details of the Eruv including halachic standards, boundaries, current status, and other information, go to

Los Angeles Jewish Events

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Dec 16 1999

Rabbinical Council of California

Los Angeles Business Journal
March 31, 2003

Traditional Jewish Arbitration Panels Find New Converts

When Yaacov Isaacs ran into a dispute over the financial terms of a contract, he turned to someone he believed could resolve the issue cheaply, quickly and fairly – a rabbi.

Isaacs, owner of a Beverly Hills health care company, is one of a growing number of Orthodox Jews who have turned to the Rabbinical Council of California’s Beit Din, or “House of Judgment,” to arbitrate disputes under Jewish law.

But the Beit Din isn’t just for Orthodox Jews. Driven largely by the increased appeal of arbitration, it has become a popular option for both non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews attracted to its practical benefits.

“It’s a huge time difference and much more economical,” Isaacs said. “But perhaps the most unique feature is that most of the time, litigants come out feeling they were dealt with fairly.”

The Beit Din is an ancient concept that involves dozens of panels throughout the world charged with resolving disputes according to Jewish law, particularly marriages and divorces.

In recent years, the RCC’s Beit Din, the largest and most respected in Southern California, has become a popular venue for executives under pressure to arbitrate matters rather than battle in court.

“There are judges around who will not listen to a case unless some attempt has been made to use some kind of alternative dispute resolution,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, a professor of Jewish law at Loyola Law School. “The Beit Din happens to be one that works particularly well.”

Rabbi Avrohom Union, rabbinic administrator at the RCC, handles three to four hearings per month, compared to monthly hearings a decade ago. He and two other rabbis, who do not work at the RCC full time, serve on a panel that hears disputes at the RCC’s conference room in downtown L.A.

Business cases rise

Nine out of 10 of the arbitrations heard at the Beit Din are business conflicts, Union said. In the past year, it began hearing small claims arbitrations, as well, such as merchandise and landlord-tenant disputes.

Almost half of those who use the Beit Din are not Orthodox Jews. In 1995, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Arizona took a case to the RCC’s Beit Din in which a tour operator called Premier Passover, owned by Orthodox Jews, was contesting $114,000 of event charges.

“The hotel owner knew his opposing litigant was Jewish and would have a hard time turning down the Beit Din,” said Adlerstein.

The arbitration method is based on the written laws of the Torah and the Talmud, the oral tradition passed down over thousands of years.

The laws governing the Beit Din, said Baruch Cohen, an L.A. attorney, differ in many ways from those of secular courts. In secular court, hearsay or evidence admitted out of court is not admitted into testimonies, but under Jewish law, oral transactions or agreements carry as much weight in court as do those that are written, he said.

Further, Jewish law does not recognize the statute of limitations, and adjudications are kept private. That’s important in the tight-knit Orthodox community.

“They don’t want to wash their dirty laundry in public,” Cohen said. “They do not want to take this dispute to the courts and turn it into a media circus. They’ll want it adjudicated responsibly within the Jewish community.”

With Jews representing less than 5 percent of the L.A. population, few others know about or feel comfortable having their disputes litigated under a law they don’t know, said Harris Cohen, an Encino attorney. “They have no idea what Jewish law is,” he said. “Why would you want your dispute resolved by people with different beliefs using laws you don’t know?”

Citing the secular

For many years, the rabbis of the Beit Din, who do not have law degrees, did not know enough about state law, causing several people to go to state court to get judgments reversed, said Baruch Cohen. He said he is now often consulted on state law.

The RCC’s Beit Din is also hearing more cases from non-Orthodox Jewish individuals who may be part of a nationwide return to Orthodox Judaism, Cohen said. He said he many of his clients are Reform and Conservative Jews who now consider the Beit Din a religious obligation.

Also, the Beit Din did not traditionally hear only those cases that included arbitration agreements in contracts. “That practice opened up a can of worms,” he said. “With the growth of arbitration law in the courts, the Beit Din hopped on board as well.”

Some fear the rabbis will be biased because they sometimes know the parties in dispute. But Union said either party may replace an existing rabbi if he believes there is a conflict of interest. The Beit Din, he said, has a pool from which to find rabbis knowledgeable in Jewish law.

“One must carefully look into the Rabbinical Council before bringing a case to them and be convinced of the impartiality of the rabbis,” Union said. “Once you believe they’re impartial, it’s unfair to say you’ve been had.”

For Isaacs, who has used the Beit Din twice in two years, fairness was not a problem. “I was amazed by the process, by the fairness of the three rabbis and by their keenness and insight,” he said.

Judgment Day
Legal services offered by the Beit Din:

Financial disputes

• Commercial (corporate, partnership, contract, employment disputes)
• Communal (congregational issues, rabbinic contracts)
• Familial (family business, inheritance or child support disputes) Administration of Jewish divorces
• Issuing a Get (writ of divorce) in accordance with Jewish law
• Adjudicating financial disputes related to divorce proceedings
• Adjudicating other end-of-marriage determinations (e.g. child custody)

Personal status

• Issuing certification of personal religious status recognized by rabbinic courts in Israel and worldwide

• Issuing certification of marital status recognized by rabbinic courts in Israel and worldwide


If you or an acquaintance require Beis Din services, please phone the RCC office at (213) 489-8080 and ask for the Rabbinic Administrator.