Agudath Israel Files Amicus Curiae Brief: Let Bais Din Have Sessions on Sunday


court-GAVELAgudath Israel of America has filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in a little known case that will have significant repercussions for Orthodox Jews involved in cases before rabbinical courts.
In Terrace View Estates Homeowners v. Bates Drive Condominium, New York State Supreme Court justices will decide the application of an old statute prohibiting judicial proceedings on Sundays. Under the current interpretation – as per the ruling in the 1940 Brody v. Owen case – proceedings and rulings at religious arbitration panels, such as Bais Din rabbinical courts, are included as well. As such, courts frequently completely invalidate Bais Din rulings regarding any matter simply because the Bais Din held proceedings on a Sunday, even if both parties explicitly agreed to that arrangement.
In the extensive brief citing various legal arguments and judicial precedents, Agudath Israel of America argues that this interpretation violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Free Exercise Clause of the New York State Constitution, since it makes it unnecessarily difficult for Orthodox Jews to fulfill their religious priority to arbitrate matters before a Bais Din. Due to the work schedules of both Dayanim (religious judges) and the individuals who appear before them, Sundays are typically the most realistic option for the proceedings to be held on.
The brief argues that the statute prohibiting Sunday proceedings should apply exclusively to secular court proceedings, or, at most, also to religious arbitration where both parties did not explicitly agree to participate in Sunday proceedings.

The research and writing for the brief was done in large part by Joseph Lieberman, a student at Harvard Law School, and Mark Kahn, a student at Georgetown Law School. Rabbi Mordechai Biser, Agudath Israel of America’s general counsel, reviewed the brief and submitted it to the court. “I am hopeful that the court will find the arguments to be sound and make it easier for members of our community across the state to go to Bais Din whenever they desire,” he says.

{Gavriel Newscenter}


  1. Way to go! We are all proud of how Yosef Dov HaKohain Lieberman is being mekadesh shem shamayim as a true ben Torah awarded a full scholarship in the nations most prestigious law school. The fact that he is already applying his expertise on behalf of the Klal is icing on the cake!