(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
New legislation seeks to encourage judges to use their right by law to refer to Jewish law in their decisions, by translating Jewish civil law into a modern context.
The bill is one Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) proposed last fall, but was not voted upon, amid disagreements within the coalition.
Slomiansky changed the new proposal so that it does not require judges to refer to Jewish civil law before international precedents, which was a something the bill’s opponents found problematic.
The bill seeks to further clarify a line in the Foundations of Justice Law that Slomiansky said is unclear, that judges should turn to “the principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace of the traditions of Israel,” in that it would form a National Institute for Jewish Law Accessibility. The institute would be managed by one representative of the Justice Ministry, one from the Bar Association, and one from academia who is selected by the other two.
“There is a need to make Jewish civil law literature accessible to all judges,” Slomiansky said. “Jewish law has the answers for everything and is much more socially developed than today’s enlightened system.”
Slomiansky quoted former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak as saying: “There is a place for Jewish civil law in the state’s justice system, and that place will grow as knowledge of Jewish civil law and access to it increases.”
Therefore, the Bayit Yehudi MK said, he proposed founding an institute that would “translate Jewish civil law to contemporary Hebrew that is clear, pleasant and understood by all.”