Glossary – Beit Din

Beit Din

Literally, the Beit Din is a religious law court. The ‘back office’ of our Beit Din works out of the Sternberg Centre in London. It arranges the courts, deals with enquiries, ensures that all documentation is available to the individual courts and works with Rabbi Andrew Goldstein and Rabbi Ruben bar Ephraim to discuss individual complex cases. As well as answering queries and dealing with registration of candidates, they arrange the Beit Din sittings and create the certificates in Hebrew and the language of the country (e.g. Polish, Catalan and Portuguese). Very importantly, it makes sure that there is a clear record of all decisions that have been taken by the courts over the years. This means that someone say, whose mother converted 30 years ago, can come to the Beit Din office and acquire proof of that conversion.

There are no full time professional Dayanim (judges) in our Beit Din. Instead, we use volunteers, chosen sometimes for their local knowledge, often because of their experience and enthusiasm for the work.. Most of them are currently working as congregational leaders, or retired colleagues from such posts, so they understand the needs and concerns of those who appear before them. Each individual Beit Din consists of three Progressive rabbis.

In addition, the Convenor attends the court, to take notes, inform the rabbinic panel of the circumstances of the case and to ensure that there is consistency of judgement across the different courts.

Since April 2012, the European Beit Din has been convened by Rabbi Jackie Tabick who previously worked at both West London Synagogue and North West Surrey Synagogue. She was the first woman rabbi to be ordained in Great Britain.