Beth Din sells on man's divorce debt

The London Beth Din has backtracked after it re-assigned a debt, owed by a man for a religious divorce certificate, to his ex-wife's new boyfriend.

Melanie Stein was granted a get in 2007, but the Beth Din refused to issue the certificate until a £405 administration fee had been paid in full by her ex-husband, Anton Stein.

Mr Stein, a 52-year-old taxi driver from Ilford, had arranged with the Beth Din to pay the balance in monthly instalments.

He began paying it off in £10 instalments, before reducing his payments to £4 per month.

Why did the Beth Din hand on my debt elsewhere?

"Money was very tight and I couldn't afford to fork out the full cost," he said. "The Beth Din didn't have a problem with monthly instalments."

But last month, he received a letter from Paul Davis, his ex-wife's new partner, stating that the Beth Din had assigned the outstanding debt of £160 to him.

Mr Davis demanded that Mr Stein should pay him the full amount plus interest in two weeks, or he would take him to court.

"The letter was the first I had heard of it," Mr Stein said. "It came out of nowhere. Nobody had previously contacted me to say that someone was interested in paying the debt.

"The set-up I had had with the Beth Din had gone out of the window, and I was being told to pay someone else the money, immediately.

"It's absolutely reprehensible of the Beth Din. Is the money all they are concerned about?

"It was very careless, whether they knew they were handing the debt to the new boyfriend or not.

"It's all been done behind my back and that's wrong. I was fuming. I was really annoyed that the Beth Din assigned this debt to someone else."

But Mr Davis said that he was unable to marry Mrs Stein until the get certificate had been issued.

Although she was halachically divorced, their rabbi would not agree to marry them until he had seen proof, he said.

"We were having to wait a long time – it was unfair," he said. "My rabbi would not agree to make a Jewish wedding without seeing the get.

"The Beth Din said she could remarry [without the certificate], but the reality of the situation is that people want to see a certificate before allowing it to happen.

"There was no alternative other than to pay it in full.

"It was a commercial transaction. Why would it need to be discussed earlier?"

After Mr Stein complained about the debt being re-assigned to Mr Davis, the Beth Din wrote off the outstanding fee and paid the balance itself.

But despite repeated attempts by the JC, the Beth Din refused to comment.

Last updated: 2:02pm, July 14 2011