Feelings and facts do not always coincide: Israel, the Jewish state, has had to confront problems about whom to define as an oleh under the Law of Return, which bear no relation to the usual issues we see and hear of in the media. This Law is one of the state's Basic Laws, passed in 1950 and amended in 1954; it will eventually form part of an Israeli Constitution. In the case under review, Oswald Rufeisen (known also as Brother Daniel) has been refused an immigration certificate and citizenship under the provisions of this law and he is now appealing to the Supreme Court for an order of mandamus to reverse this decision.

There are 22 roles below and more may be added.

Notes on the Court Proceedings

In addition to the outline on page 1, madrichim need to ensure that participants understand the order of proceedings in court:


  • 1. The Clerk calls for order as the Judges enter; introduces the case before the court and reads out the court document (Document no.1).

    2. Rufeisen's lawyer is asked by the judges to present an introduction and state the number of witnesses being brought.

    3. The State Attorney, acting for the Ministry of the Interior in the case, is asked to present their case in outline and name their witnesses.

    4. Each side has 20 minutes to present their witnesses, plus any necessary cross-examination after each takes the stand. Documents may be presented to the court and entered into the court minutes.

    5. The senior judge sums up the issues.

    6. Each side may present a final summation of 5 minutes.

Division into groups is as follows:


Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F

  • 5 Supreme Court judges, including an Av Bet Din (Chief Judge), whose personality will carry authority and keep order!

    The judges are allowed to ask questions in court to assist the proceedings.

    They can proceed and decide according to their own personal opinions, basing themselves on the facts provided.

    Note: they require all the documentation provided to both sides in litigation, but not the actual Israel Court decision.

      1 State Attorney (equivalent of Attorney General) with

      2 assistants.

      On behalf of the State, to defend the original decision and lead group D.

      You have all the documents provided to your witnesses and should build an argument and the scenario for the case to reject Brother Daniel's appeal. Decide what questions you will put to witnesses from the other side during the cross-examination. Build an introductory speech and a summation.

        1 Lawyer ( or 2 with different approaches) and

        2 assistants.

        On behalf of Rufeisen, to present the appeal and lead group C.

        You have all the documents provided to your witnesses and should build an argument and the scenario for the appeal, asking that the Ministry of the Interior justify their previous decision and making every effort to prove a miscarriage of justice. Prepare your questions for cross-examination of witnesses from the other side. Build an introductory speech and a summation.

          Witnesses for the State Attorney (B), to be called to the stand as experts.


          • 1 legal expert who specialises in the interpretation of the Law of Return;


          • 1 Government legal official from the Ministry of the Interior, who explains the decision to deny the status of oleh and registration as Jewish to someone who has converted to another religion.


          • 1 rabbi and expert on Halakha, who explains orthodox Judaism's attitude to apostates.

          Experts and other relevant witnesses to be called for testimony.


          • Oswald Rufeisen, (=Brother Daniel).


          • 1 legal expert who gives a liberal interpretation of the Law of Return.


          • 1 official from the Immigration Ministry who contests the Government's ordinance (see Document no.7) as illegal.


          • 1 rabbi (orthodox or otherwise) who believes that no-one ever ceases to be a Jew and brings the relevant arguments as provided.


          • 1 person who knew Rufeisen from the Mir ghetto and takes the view that he saved many Jewish lives during the war, and therefore must be honoured as a Jew.


          • 1 member / official of the Bnai Brith Anti-Defamation League or any other rights organisation, who takes a universalistic line of argument.


          • 1 Catholic priest from the Carmelite order in Israel who has known Brother Daniel (Rufeisen) for many years during which he has been aware of the latter's continued affiliation with his Jewish roots.

          1 or 2 clerks to the court who keep the records, documents and assist in the proceedings, including the period when the judges retire to consider their verdict; these roles may be played by madrichim in a small group.





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          15 Aug 2005 / 10 Av 5765 0