Because the issues will not require interpretation of religious doctrine, a court may consider an Orthodox Jewish woman’s claims that the publication of a religious divorce decree granted by a group of rabbis was libelous and caused her emotional distress, a state judge in Manhattan has ruled.

Justice Martin Schoenfeld this week in Sieger v. Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada Inc., 605638/98, filed in Supreme Court, New York County, IA Part 28, denied the rabbis’ motion to dismiss the case. The rabbis argued that the religious issues were so entwined with Helen Chayie Sieger’s tort claims that the First Amendment’s doctrine requiring separation of church and state barred the state courts from adjudicating the dispute.

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