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Etymologically, Sanhedrin is a late Hebrew representation of the Greek word synedrion συνέδριον meaning "sitting together" as a legislative assembly or Senate. It is interesting to note that several aspects of the U.S. Senate, including the semi-circle seating of the senators, were derived from the Jewish Sanhedrin by the Founding Fathers of the U.S. Constitution. The Jewish Sanhedrin is a governmental body that resembles aspects of both the U.S. Senate and the Supreme Court.
The make-up of the council includes a President - Nasi, Chancellor - Av beis din, and sixty-nine general members who all sit in the form of a semi-circle when in session. Decisions are made by majority vote. The constitution of seventy-one is to preclude the possibility of a tie. Members of the Sanhedrin are not elected, nor is their position permanent. Any scholar, at any time, may gain a place on the legislature by proving a greater level of scholarship in Jewish Law than a current member of the legislature.
New Initiatives supporting the Sanhedrin
Contacting the Sanhedrin