Imagine Israel if the Rabbinical Courts Decided Civil Matters… What an Iran it Would Be…

Rabbinical court officials tried to promote beneficial legislation in coalition talks

Despite regulations, the court’s legal advisor sends religious party leaders’ recommendations for legislation that would expand the rabbinical system’s powers, including allowing Jewish law to be used in civil cases, constructing new building to match that of Supreme Court

Senior officials in Israel’s rabbinical courts prepared a document suggesting legislation for ultra-Orthodox parties to use during coalition negotiations after the April 2019 elections.

The document, which goes against existing regulations on the separation of the rabbinical courts and the political echelon, was obtained by Ynet’s sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth.

L-R: United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Union head Bezalel Smotrich (Photos: EPA and Yair Sagi)

L-R: United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Union head Bezalel Smotrich (Photos: EPA and Yair Sagi)

It was sent out from the personal account of the rabbinical courts’ legal advisor Rabbi Shimon Yaacovi two weeks after the elections, in an email entitled “Clauses for the government’s basic guidelines.” It was sent to several members of the ultra-Orthodox parties’ negotiators as well as Bezalel Smotrich, the head of the National Union party.

The document contained suggested legislation that the ultra-Orthodox parties should demanded from the government during the coalition talks.

The most noteworthy item was proposed legislation that states that, “the rabbinical courts will have the authority to decide financial cases according to Jewish law, if all sides in the dispute agree.”

Similar legislative attempts meant to increase the power and scope of the rabbinical courts beyond divorce and conversion, have previously been stopped in the past by the Supreme Court.

Other items in the document dealt directly with employment conditions for rabbinical court staff, demanding they be equal to those of workers in the civil court system.

Yaacovi also recommends that the government commit to assigning a budget for a new rabbinical court building and the chief rabbinate that is of equal standard to the Supreme Court building.

The rabbincal court for the Jerusalem area (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

The rabbincal court for the Jerusalem area (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

The legal adviser also sought to increase his own jurisdiction, recommending that he be authorized to appear before the Supreme Court for any injunction involving rabbinical courts without receiving permission from the attorney general.

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The JV – Judge Elena Baron for Surrogate’s Court in Bklyn – No More Attorneys or Party Bosses Paying for Surrogate Judges

The Jewish Voice Endorses Judge Elena Baron for Bklyn’s Surrogate Court


Judge Elena Baron has earned a stellar reputation of showing genuine concern about matters directly affecting our community, such as closures of yeshivos and synagogues; as she handles cases brought before her on the bench with palpable sensitivity and profound compassion.

Urging all our readers to vote in the June 25th election

As the end of yet another decade is fast approaching, for Brooklynites this juncture in time has taken on added meaning. Just ask any resident of the County of Kings and they will tell you that the upcoming June 25th election is the most crucial in terms of defining our future as a borough that is predicated on an unwavering commitment to championing the highest degree of legal ethics.

On June 25th, Brooklynites from every area of the borough will flock to the polls to push the lever in the Democratic primary for a judgeship position in Surrogate Court. The reason this particular election is of paramount importance is because Brooklyn has a very long and exceptionally proud legacy of tenaciously upholding its cherished values, traditions and customs which have been the bedrock of life of this truly beloved place on earth that we all call home. And now, a tireless advocate for our rights and an extremely qualified and experienced jurist who has thrown her proverbial hat in the ring to serve all Brooklynites as she runs for Surrogate Court seat.  Her name is Judge Elena Baron and it is a name that all of us must become familiar with.

What happens in the Surrogate Court is of vital importance to the Jewish community. The Surrogate’s Court oversees all matters relating to a decedent’s estate.  A great deal of money from Jewish decedents comes through Surrogate Court.  The judge in the Surrogate’s Court is called the Surrogate, and this person renders crucial decisions pertaining to deeply personal issues regarding families during the most vulnerable times of their lives. This includes, but is not limited to, such matters as burial arrangements, property disputes, adoptions and guardianships for minors in order to ensure that the assets are used for the minor’s benefit, as well as for legally incapacitated persons.  A Surrogate Court Judge is consistently called upon to decide very complex and thorny issues, with disputes and litigation involving contested probate proceedings including validation of documents such as Wills or Trusts, document interpretation, kinship issues, business matters and family disputes.  Also under the aegis of the Surrogate’s Court are accountings, where the appointed executor or administrator provides a record of all financial transactions and expenses relating to a decedent’s estate.

Judge Elena Baron has earned a stellar reputation of showing genuine concern about matters directly affecting our community, such as closures of yeshivos and synagogues; as she handles cases brought before her on the bench with palpable sensitivity and profound compassion.

Judge Baron’s judicial employment history is beyond impressive. She has worked in five New York City courthouses for over a decade, handling guardianship proceedings, fiduciary appointments, receiverships, refereeships, credit card debt, small business corporate matters, personal injury matters, labor law disputes, landlord-tenant issues, and residential and commercial property cases, including foreclosures, as well as small claims.  Those who have stood before her in her court have taken note of her remarkable diligence and her laborious efforts to maintain judicial equity under every and all circumstances.

Judge Baron is grateful for endorsements by Rabbi Aaron D. Twerski, Rabbi Shimon Hecht, Rabbi Rabbi Shea Hecht, Rabbi Avracham Reich, Rabbi Tzvi Twerski, Rabbi Aaron Raskin, Rabbi Bernard Freilich, Rabbi Avraham Reich, Rabbi Chaim Yosef Pinkesz, Rabbi Mendy Hecht, Rabbi Meir Fund, Rabbi Eli Cohen, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Rabbi Shea Rubenstein, Rabbi Moshe Levin,  Rabbi Tamir Zalsman, and many other rabbis and community leaders and she is the only Jewish candidate running in for Surrogate’s court.

“Growing up in the former Soviet Union, under the corrupt and frightening rule of the Communist Party, there was no opportunity for me to explore my Jewish identity or to receive a formal Jewish education. That is why I sent my son to Yeshiva, to learn our traditions, family values, and a commitment to public service.  My grandmother, a doctor, saw more than 100 patients a day, and still found the strength to volunteer, visiting the sick in their homes,” declared Judge Baron.

Judge Baron immigrated to Brooklyn 25 years ago from Rostov-on-Don, the city where great Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Schneerson, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, lived during his final years and is buried.  Rostov is also a site where 27,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in 1942.  Judge Baron’s grandparents were decorated World War II veterans, who lost their family members in the Holocaust.  Judge Baron is an active participant in Jewish life, who serves with alacrity on the board of directors for Congregation B’nai Jacob in Park Slope, gives tzedakah generously and volunteers to fund and feed the Jewish poor, the elderly and the infirm.

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Surrogates’ Court in NYC – “Center of Corruption” Estate Lawyers’ Donations – Elena Baron Not Beholden to Lawyers’ Money

Estate lawyers flood Surrogate’s Court race with campaign contributions

June 20, 2019 Noah Goldberg

In the Brooklyn race for Surrogate’s Court judge, two of the three candidates have raked in contributions from estate lawyers whose business is handled in the court.

While the primary to replace or re-elect current judge Margarita López Torres is by no means a big-money race compared to others, such as the the Queens DA race, a Brooklyn Eagle review of pre-primary reports filed with the state’s Board of Elections shows that both incumbent López Torres and candidate Meredith Jones have taken in at least 35 percent of their donations from estate lawyers.

From left: Margarita López Torres, Meredith Jones, Elena Barron. Photos by Rob Abruzzese (left, right); courtesy of Meredith Jones (center)From left: Margarita López Torres, Meredith Jones, Elena Barron. Photos by Rob Abruzzese (left, right); courtesy of Meredith Jones (center)

Surrogate’s Court is where the estates of the dead are handled, including any debates over wills. Estate lawyers represent family members in the Surrogate’s Court and argue their cases before the surrogate judge.

Related: Why surrogate judges matter: A voter’s primer

Donations from lawyers who have business before the court are not unique to Surrogate’s Court — in races for Civil Court too, local lawyers are big donors, and District Attorneys across New York have come under fire for taking donations from defense attorneys with cases before them.

“Lawyers and law firms — which have business before the courts — are normally donors to political campaigns. But what this does show is that we need to be looking at how we fund campaigns and who funds our civil courts,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a good government group.

Lerner noted that Surrogate’s Courts in New York City have been the center of corruption for decades. In 2005, Brooklyn’s Surrogate Michael Feinberg was kicked off the court after it was revealed that he appointed his law school friend to run the Public Administrator’s Office, and then “improperly awarded” that man millions of dollars, according to a New York Times article at the time.

López Torres, who has been one of the two surrogates in Brooklyn since her insurgent election in 2005, has taken in at least $18,300 from estate lawyers and law firms. That makes up 43 percent of her $42,471 total contributions. Jones raised a more modest sum of at least $3,400 from estate lawyers — but out of her contribution total of $9,400, that’s 35 percent.

The third candidate in the race, Civil Court Judge Elena Baron, did not take in any money from estate lawyers, a review of her campaign filings showed. Baron was the only one of the three candidates rated as “not approved” to run Brooklyn’s Surrogate’s Court by the New York City Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association because she declined to participate in their rating.

“Baron’s extensive experience in civil matters that come before the court is independent of the Surrogate’s Court, political machines and the lawyers that practice before the surrogate court,” said Gary Tilzer, who is running Baron’s campaign.

Some estate lawyers donated to both López Torres and Jones. Brooklyn estate lawyer Michael Kaplan gave $250 to López Torres and $200 to Jones, while another estate lawyer, Ira Kopito, who used to be associate counsel to the public administrator, gave $250 to both.

Both López Torres and Jones say they do not know who their campaign donors are, citing a rule that bars judicial candidates from ascertaining the identities of contributors.

“A judicial candidate may attend his/her own fund-raising event and may actually see and acknowledge individuals in attendance, but the identities of those who contribute to a judicial candidate’s campaign should otherwise be kept from the candidate,” the rule states.

That information, however, is publicly available and easily accessible online.

Jones said she is glad that people are donating to her campaign, saying it means the estate lawyers think she will do a good job.

“I’m happy people have confidence in me to be willing to donate, but I don’t know they are,” Jones told the Eagle.

She has no problem with people donating who have business before the court, she said.

James Brennan, a former Brooklyn assemblymember working on López Torres’ campaign, said that about two-thirds of the incumbent’s campaign money is being self-funded by her and her husband. He also noted that López Torres does not know the identities of her contributors.

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Daily News, Is Brooklyn Court System Rigged Against Non-Hasidic Litigants?

To our dedicated readers:

We have the same question alleged by the subject of the Daily News Article attached hereto. We are simply posting a screenshot. We note that the case is apparently not sealed.

We cannot speak to the validity or the allegations or charges, this is simply a repost, with the sole purpose of asking the same question.

If you are not Hasidic, can you get a fair trial in Brooklyn?

Tainted Brklyn Courts

Revisiting Lori Shem-Tov, the Sex Scandal that is Rocking the Israeli Judiciary

Shaked faces calls to resign as sex scandal rocks Israel judiciary

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is seen at the podium as she gives a statement at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 19, 2018 (Photo by: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is facing calls to resign as Israeli politicians accuse her of complicity in a sex scandal that has rocked the country’s judiciary.

Shaked yesterday hit back at accusations that she bore responsibility for the scandal, in which the head of the Israel Bar Association, Efraim (Efi) Nave, allegedly helped appoint a female judge in return for sexual favours.

Nave is thought to be a powerful ally of Shaked’s within the judicial system, with both sitting on Israel’s Judicial Appointments Committee which assigns judges to the Israeli courts. Shaked’s political opponents are now claiming she allowed Nave to allegedly abuse his power under her watch in order to promote her own political interests.

Shaked yesterday hit back at this criticism, labelling it “an unbridled, false and inflammatory attack,” the Times of Israel (ToI) reported. The Israeli daily added that Shaked took “particular issue with female ‘left-wing Knesset members’,” telling a Bar Association seminar that “we have our political differences, but I considered them colleagues. They are all women, and that is my disappointment”.

Shaked was likely referring to criticism levelled against her by Shelly Yachimovich, who earlier this week slammed the justice minister for her alleged involvement in the affair. Yachimovich – who replaced Tzipi Livni as leader of the opposition following the latter’s unceremonious dismissal earlier this month –  said in a statement on Wednesday: “[The] judicial selection committee operated under terror and corruption, under the destructive leadership of Justice Minister Shaked, and the rotten environment and broken alliances that created it are the ground for the horrific affair being exposed today.”

The scandal in which Shaked is implicated has shaken the Israel judicial system since details first emerged on Wednesday. Nave was arrested by the Israel Police on suspicion of offering promotions in exchange for sexual favours, as part of an investigation which saw his home and the Israel Bar Association offices in Jerusalem raided, Haaretz reported. The police seized documents and computer files during the raid. Nave has been released to house arrest for eight days pending further investigation.

Nave is suspected of appointing a female judge to an Israeli magistrates’ court in return for illicit acts. According to the Times of Israel, he is also “suspected of having sexual relations with the wife of another judge, for the purpose of helping her husband advance from a magistrate’s court to a district court position”.

Though the incidents are thought to have taken place several years ago, the Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit of the Israel Police only opened the probe two weeks ago, after Israel Army Radio journalist Hadas Shteif provided information to the police about the case. Additional details continue to emerge, with the investigation initially placed under gag order by Israel’s censor.

READ: Ex-Israel minister given 11 year jail term for spying for Iran

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has disqualified himself from dealing with the case “given his friendship with the main suspect”. Instead the case will be overseen by State Attorney Shai Nitzan, who ToI explains personally authorised Nave’s arrest.

The political ramifications of the scandal are yet to play out, though the revelations could be damaging to Shaked’s newly-formed New Right (Hayemin Hehadash) party. Shaked, along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, broke away from the Jewish Home party in a bid to head into Israel’s upcoming general election with a clean slate, distancing themselves from what the religious-Zionist camp and hoping to steal seats from the ruling Likud party.

Other Knesset members (MKs) however blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fostering an environment marred by corruption. Revital Swed, of the Israel Labor party, said: “The new affair highlights the four-year campaign of destruction, in which the prime minister and the justice minister abused the judicial system, politicizing it. When this is the norm, it is no wonder that the committee for the appointment of judges is also desecrated.”

Swed was of course referring to the numerous corruption cases levied against Netanyahu. The prime minister is under investigation in three separate probes –dubbed Case 1000Case 2000and Case 4000 respectively – and has repeatedly attacked the police and judicial system, claiming they are biased against him.


Lori Shem-Tov, Arrests of Effi Naveh and Others in Judicial Sex Scandal, Trading Sex for Judgeship

Lori Shem-Tov and the Effi Naveh Arrest

We have been following the Shem-Tov case closely because as anonymous bloggers, we would like to believe that our identities are protected. Lori’s case proves that anonymity may not always be as safe as we would like to think. It further proves the lengths to which those who are scrutinized will go to gain and retain silence.

We have published the majority of the following article related to a judicial sexual scandal (which was the partial basis for the Shem-Tov case) absent permission of the author. Our publication should not be assumed to indicate any support of our blog by that blogger or any endorsement of that blog by us. We ask that you revert back to the original source for further reading. 

For ease of reference, we have highlighted in red the pertinent parts of the Sex Scandal as it relates to the Shem-Tov case. It should be understood that Lori has been held in jail in Israel, or under some form of arrest absent a formal trial on charges of what is called “scandalizing the courts”. Her information was obtained by the authorities in Israel from WordPress through international channels on the grounds that she was a so-called web terrorist. These are serious charges and allegations.

Considering the integrity of the judges she was criticizing, one should be asking at this juncture whether or not it might be time to drop the charges. Justices in any country are the law of the land. They are the ultimate arbiters of democracy and the democratic process. If they cannot be trusted, who then, as a society can we trust.  


Israel Bar Association Offices raided in Sex Scandal - arrest of Effi Naveh

Judicial sex scandal in Israel turns into wave of arrests. Head of Israeli Bar arrested

Following two weeks of rumours after the head of Police Lahav 433 went to Netanya and asked for a gag order of a sensitive pot[sic] involving the Judiciary, this morning January 16 2019, started with arrests, seizures and interrogations of the main suspects.  It turns out Telem Yahav, head of Lahav 433, leaked his visit to Netanya as a dragnet ploy to catch Netanya Judge Etti Krieff off guard.

The police leaked that they avoided filing the gag order in Rishon LeZion so as not to disclose the investigation into a judge who is close friends with Effi Naveh – head of the Israel Bar.  It is now revealed that Judge Etti Krieff was the real suspect for offering sexual pleasures to Effi Naveh in exchange for her promotion from her position as a policewoman to that of a Judge.  Krieff fell into the trap and talked on the phone, whilst the police were listening.

Apparently District Court Judge Eitan Orenshtein signed the wiretap order.  Once deciphered, this morning Effi Naveh was arrested, the entire possessions of his house loaded onto trucks as evidence.  Naveh’s relatives announced that he is temporarily suspending his position as head of the Bar.  This afternoon he will be brought before a judge, probably Judge Allah Masrawa of the Tel Aviv Ha Shalom Court.  

Also raided were the main offices of the Israel Bar in central Tel Aviv.  Naveh’s law office is situated directly across from the Prosecution offices.  The District Attorney in Tel Aviv has not yet been raided.

Susie Aranya

Also called for interrogation this morning was Susie Ozsinay Aranya, an attorney married to Judge Rafi Aranya in Rishon LeZion.  Susie Aranya is the daughter of a billionaire Turkish Industrialist, who is now running in the primaries at the Likud Party which is financed by her dad.  Susie may not have been surprised about her impending call from the police, since rumours about her were published by Richard Silverstein from California.  Silverstein wrote that Susie offered sexual services to Effi Naveh, in return for promoting Judge Aranya to the Tel Aviv District Court.

Judge Rafi Aranya with Effi Naveh

Incidentally, the blogger Lory Shem Tov, arrested in February 2017, still imprisoned, was charged with sexually molesting Susie and Rafi Aranya for reporting in a blog 3 years ago that Mrs Aranya was in sexual cahoots with (referring to Effi) to promote her husband.  Now it appears she was correct.

Before her arrest, Shem Tov was in touch with Barak Lazer, legal Advisor of the Court Administration, who leaked to her confidential information.  The police obtained a search warrant for Lazer’s phone and computer where they found evidence of nefarious contacts with Naveh, Aranya and other judges such as Yosef Elron, Einat Ron, Shelly Rozman Farkash, Iris Arbel Asal, and others.  This treasure trove served as the basis for collecting the data at the police.

Effi Naveh with Judge Einat Ron

All this would have stayed permanently dormant but for an interview at Uvda TV news show with Ilana Dyan where Effi Naveh bragged about his powers with Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Justice, and blamed Shai Nitzan, Shaked’s nemesis, for personally chasing hi, and ordering his indictment for border control skipping with his new lover, Ms. Bar Katz.  


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