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Divorce Court

Long before Jerry Springer, divorcing couples fought it out before Warsaw’s rabbinical court

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“A makeh,” from Der blofer, Oct. 1929 (All images courtesy of Eddy Portnoy.)

“Krochmalna ‘Amkho’ Throws Punches in Rabbinate,” Moment, November 1928

On Wednesday the rabbinate heard a case from Krochmalna Street: the bride and groom showed up with about 15 people from the real amkho who came as witnesses.

Upon seeing such an “army” entering the court, Rabbis Ritshevol, Poyzner and Sheyngras began to tremble and started to look for a door.

The bride and groom met about eight months ago and set and signed conditions for their future marriage and even set specific dates for the event, but the groom doesn’t want to go under the chuppah because “the bride isn’t an honest one… ”

So they came to the rabbi to get a judgement.

The rabbi asks, “What do you mean by “not honest?’”

“I’m certain that she already has a child,” he answers.

Upon hearing the word “child,” the prospective bride whacked the groom with a fiery slap. The groom didn’t want to “owe” her and paid up with a sizzling “reply. ” The rabbinate filled with screams as turmoil ensued. The witnesses also began fighting and when the rabbis saw what was coming, they slowly crept out.

Once again, the courts’ shamus [the rabbi’s assistant] had to run out to get a policeman. By the time the policeman arrived, things had already calmed down. Both sides turned to the shamus and asked him to convince the other rabbis to consider the case, that earlier they had been agitated and they won’t “brawl” any more.

But it didn’t help.

“You can’t fight in the rabbinate. You’ll have to come another time,” they were told.

The group went away with the intention of returning.

“Krochmalna” doesn’t know any tricks: either get married or don’t. “Just don’t hassle a Jewish girl! ”

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Scott Aaron says:

Thanks, Ms. Portnoy, for your great history pieces from the yiddish press. Brings to life an era I think sometimes get romanticized because of our loss of the language. I really enjoy reading your pieces as an educator and they are helpful when teaching European Jewish history too as examples of daily life.

J. Garber says:

Another gift to antisemites.

Jerry Springer originated in the Rabbinic tradition.

You people are out to lunch.


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Divorce Court

Long before Jerry Springer, divorcing couples fought it out before Warsaw’s rabbinical court