SIEGER v. SIEGER
297 A.D.2d 33 (2002)
747 N.Y.S.2d 102
CHAIM SIEGER, Respondent,
HELEN SIEGER, Defendant.
MICHAEL TENENBAUM, Proposed Intervenor-Appellant.
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department.
September 9, 2002.
Mintz & Gold, LLP, New York City (Steven G. Mintz and Lisabeth Harrison of counsel), for proposed intervenor-appellant.
Mallow, Konstam & Hager, P.C., New York City (Abe H. Konstam of counsel), for respondent.
KRAUSMAN, J.P., ADAMS and CRANE, JJ., concur.
OPINION OF THE COURT
In the instant action for a divorce and ancillary relief, the issue raised on appeal is whether the Supreme Court properly denied those branches of the motion of Michael Tenenbaum, the father of the defendant Helen Sieger, for leave to intervene and to compel arbitration of certain claims by a rabbinical court. We conclude that the Supreme Court properly denied those branches of the appellant's motion, and therefore affirm the order insofar as appealed from.
The plaintiff Chaim Sieger (hereinafter the husband) and the defendant Helen Sieger (hereinafter the wife) are Orthodox Jews who were married in 1972. In March 1998, the husband commenced the instant action for a divorce and ancillary relief. Insofar as is relevant to the instant appeal, in his amended statement of net worth, the husband reported ownership interest in two nursing homes, and he sought equitable distribution of such interest.
By order to show cause dated June 30, 2000, the appellant moved, inter alia, for leave to intervene in the instant action and to compel the husband to submit to arbitration by a rabbinical court on his claims of ownership in the two nursing homes. In his affirmation in support of the motion, the appellant asserted that as a "highly observant orthodox Jew," he is required, under Jewish law, to resolve any disputes with other Orthodox Jews before a rabbinical court. He further claimed that the husband's interest in the nursing homes "derived and related directly to his status as [the appellant's] daughter's husband."
The appellant based his claim upon an engagement contract which he entered into with the husband's father in September 1971, and which the husband and wife also signed. The contract, inter alia, required the husband's father "to clothe [the husband]" and "to give gifts to the bride in keeping with his dignity," and required the appellant "to clothe" the wife. It further provided that any disputes would be settled "in accordance with the `regulations of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz.'" According to the appellant, this provision of the engagement contract required that "any disputes concerning [property provided by the wife's family] are * * * to be resolved in" a rabbinical court known as a Beth Din, and that he had standing to intervene and compel arbitration of his claim before the rabbinical court because he "was expressly named as a party to the engagement contract."*
After the husband submitted opposition papers in which he asserted, inter alia, that the engagement contract did not contain an arbitration clause and was superseded by the parties' marriage contract, the appellant submitted evidence indicating that the regulations of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz arose out of 13th century synods "at which many diverse enactments were adopted in every area of Jewish law." He further submitted the affidavit of Rabbi Aryeh Rabinowitz, a rabbinical judge and expert in Rabbinical and Talmudic law. In relevant part, Rabinowitz stated: (1) the engagement contract was not superseded by the marriage contract, and (2) "[t]he engagement contract does in fact contain an arbitration clause" because "[t]he regulations of Speyer, Worms and Mainz provide that all disputes shall be submitted to a Beth Din for resolution." Moreover, according to Rabbi Rabinowitz, Jewish law does not require a specific arbitration agreement for a Beth Din to obtain jurisdiction over the parties.