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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776
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Chief Justice Keeps Israeli Courts Open Rosh Hashanah

It's a fascinating—and rare—case in which the rights of an individual to a speedy trial clash with the identity of the Jewish state.

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis keeps the courts open on Rosh Hashanah.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis keeps the courts open on Rosh Hashanah.
Photo Credit: Ari Dudkevitch/Flash 90



Israeli magistrate courts will continue to process arraignments over Rosh Hashanah this year, according to a special order by Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis.

This year, Rosh Hashanah—the only 2-day Jewish holiday observed in Israel—begins Wednesday night, which means that the state’s non-emergency services will be suspended by law until Sunday morning.

This would result in suspects remaining in detention without an arraignment before a judge for three days, which the Chief Justice finds unacceptable.

It’s a fascinating—and rare—case in which the rights of an individual to a speedy trial clash with the identity of the Jewish state. It also suggests a higher level of attention to defendants’ rights than in the U.S., where anyone arrested late on a Friday must wait behind bars for their arraignment until Monday.

In an order he sent the senior judges of the court system, Justice Grunis wrote there would be no other option but to conduct court deliberations over the holiday.

According to the “work order” issued by the courts administration following Grunis’s instructions, on Wednesday, Rosh Hashanah eve, the courts will stay open until two hours before the holiday, and on Thursday, first day of Rosh Hashanah, the courts will deliberate arraignments based on need. Then, on Saturday night, arraignments will start again normally, one hour after the end of Shabbat.

The court administration directive also says that every efforts should be made to avoid the desecration of the holiday, and in cases of individual employees asking not to work on the holiday for religious reasons, every effort should be made to accommodate them.

The national court employees union said it objects to the directive but its members will cooperate with it.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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