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Queens Bet Din Gittin / Rabbi Faber Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-502

Scope and Content Note

The Queens Bet Din Gittin / Rabbi Faber Records consist of Rabbi Faber’s notes about the get, including the husbands’ and wives’ addresses and Hebrew names and the Hebrew names of their fathers, the name of the scribe who wrote the divorce decree, the names of the witnesses to the divorce, the date the get was deposited with the Queens Bet Din and the date when it was delivered to the wife. These notes are in Hebrew. The collection also contains Rabbi Faber’s correspondence with the husband and wife as well as with lawyers and other rabbis involved with processing the get and copies of civil and Jewish marriage and divorce documents, including copies of the get that have been accepted and cut so that they cannot be used again. The records belonged to the Queens Bet Din but there are divorces and documents from other cities in the United States as well as other countries, as the husband, wife, or both could have been born, married, or residing elsewhere at the time of the divorce.

This collection could be useful for researchers interested in genealogy as well as sociological aspects of religious marriages and divorces and family patterns. The materials in this collection date from 1947-1994, with the bulk dating from 1974-1992, corresponding to the rise in civil divorces starting in the 1970s. Rabbi Faber’s notes are in Hebrew. Additional materials are in English, Hebrew, French, Arabic, and German. The collection consists of 24 manuscript boxes comprising 12 linear feet.

Dates

  • 1947-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1974 - 1992

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Historical Note

Salamon Faber was the Rabbi of the Kew Gardens Anshe Sholom Jewish Center in Queens, and Chair of the Queens Bet Din. He died in 1998. The Vaad Harabonim of Queens, the Board of Rabbis, was founded in 1960 by several rabbis from congregations in Queens in order to unite the Orthodox Jewish community and to provide religious services, including kosher certification standards, a chevra kadisha (Jewish burial) society, a bet din religious court to handle legal disputes and process Jewish divorces, and a forum for debate and discussion of religious issues that affect the community. The Vaad Harabonim of Queens now includes rabbis from all over Queens and Long Island who serve on a voluntary not-for-profit basis.

A bet din is a religious court that hears Jewish legal disputes and processes Jewish divorces. As with legal disputes, special guidelines are in place to ensure the impartiality of the member rabbis in divorce proceedings. Jewish law requires a Jewish bill of divorce, a get, in order to dissolve a Jewish marriage. The hope is that a standard get procedure is non-adversarial and does not require litigation. No grounds are needed for a divorce and no personal questions are asked when there is mutual consent. According to Jewish law, neither party may remarry until the get is given and accepted.

The get procedure is standardized according to Jewish law and supervised by a qualified rabbi or rabbinic court. One of the involved parties contacts the bet din to initiate the get procedure and/or to set a date for both parties to appear before the bet din for the get procedure and arranges for payment of the fee. When both parties appear before the bet din, the get is written by an authorized scribe and signed by two authorized witnesses, adult males who are religiously knowledgeable and committed and are not related to each other or to either the husband or wife. The wife affirms that she accepts the get of her own free will, without any conditions or stipulations. The husband makes an official decree of delivery of the get of his own free will in English and Hebrew and drops the get into the wife’s bare hands. The wife takes possession of the get and walks a few steps, indicating that she has received the get. The get is cut so that it cannot be used again and kept in the files of the bet din. The bet din issues a document to both parties stating that a get has been given and received and each party is free to remarry.

If the husband and wife cannot, or do not wish, to meet in person, a representative may be appointed to act in the husband’s stead, in which case the same rules and procedures apply as when the husband delivers the get in person. After the wife receives the get, the get itself is cut so that it cannot be used again and sent to the office of the bet din, along with the document indicating that there was a representative for the husband and a note giving the exact date and hour of delivery of the get, the names of the witnesses in Hebrew and English and the addresses of the witnesses. A document is sent to both parties certifying that the get has been processed by the bet din and that both parties are now free to remarry according to Jewish law.

The bet din usually requests copies of the civil and Jewish marriage documents (ketubah) and the civil divorce documents as well as the date and place of the Jewish marriage ceremony, the name, address and affiliation of the officiating rabbi, the full English and Hebrew or Yiddish names of the husband, the wife and the husband’s and wife’s fathers, the birth religion of the husband, the wife and their fathers, any conversion certificates along with the date and place and name, address and affiliation of the rabbi who performed the conversion, and two forms of identification of the husband and the wife.

Extent

12 Linear Feet (24 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Hebrew

French

German

Arabic

Abstract

This is a collection of the records of Rabbi Salamon Faber, Chair of the Queens Bet Din or Rabbinic Court, concerning the gittin (plural of get, Jewish religious divorces) that the Queens Bet Din granted between 1947 and 1992. These records include Rabbi’s Faber’s personal notes about the gittin, correspondence with the husband and wife and with any other concerned parties, copies of civil and religious marriage and divorce documents, divorce contracts signed by the husband, and copies of conversion certificates.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in one series. The materials were originally in spiral notebooks and composition books and arranged according to the date on the Jewish calendar on which the get was first deposited with the Queens Bet Din. The pages have been removed from the notebooks but kept in their original order. Supplemental materials for the records are attached to the notebook page. There is an index by the bride’s name and one by the groom’s name at the beginning of the collection although the earliest records, those from 1947-1958, are not represented in this index. The index provides each record with a number corresponding to the order in which the get was deposited with the Bet Din. Some, although not all, of the records are numbered, with either Hebrew letters or Arabic numbers. The index and the folders all use the Arabic numbers. The files for 5734 include the end of the 5733 records.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the American Jewish Historical Society by Rabbi Faber in 1994.

Related Material

The American Jewish Historical Society Archives have the papers of Charles Blumenthal, P-114, and Tobias Geffen, P-516, both of whom were rabbis whose collections contain materials about Jewish marriage and divorce. The AJHS and YIVO libraries have several books about Jewish marriage and divorce, agunot (plural of agunah) and gittin.

Title
Guide to the Queens Bet Din Gittin / Rabbi Faber Records, 1947-1994
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Rachel S. Harrison as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
Date
© 2010.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from QueensBetDin.xml

Revision Statements

  • May 2021: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States