Sunday, March 27, 2005

Knesset to pass bill expanding rabbinical courts' authority in divorce: This may significantly impact Jewish women worldwide.


At 9:05 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Sun., March 27, 2005 Adar2 16, 5765
Knesset to pass bill expanding rabbinical courts' authority

By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent

The Knesset is expected to approve a government bill this week that considerably expands the authority of the rabbinical courts.

The bill, which has already been approved by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, will be presented for second and third readings against the objections of Justice Ministry legal experts, women's organizations and Labor, Yahad and Shinui Knesset members.

Legal experts believe the bill is a clear violation of the status quo. It authorizes rabbinical courts to hear divorce suits concerning Jewish couples, even if one or both of the partners lives overseas. The bill applies to couples married in a religious ceremony who have not commenced civil divorce procedures overseas. A spouse will also be able to file for divorce with the rabbinical courts if he has resided in Israel for at least one year.

Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kadari, a family law specialist at Bar-Ilan University, says the legislation would enable a man living abroad to immigrate to Israel to sue his wife for divorce a year later, thereby preventing her from obtaining a civil divorce overseas. This would oblige her to come to Israel and get divorced in a rabbinical court, even if she has no affiliation to Israel and only married in a religious ceremony for reasons of family and tradition.

Halperin-Kadari says that if the woman tries to obtain a civil divorce abroad, the court may reject her, not wanting to interfere with the jurisdiction of a court in another country.

"We are starting a race between the powers of the Israeli rabbinical court and the rest of the world," says Na'amat attorney Gali Etzion. Na'amat tried in vain to have the bill amended so that it applies only after civil procedures are completed abroad.

Legal experts say they fear that once enacted, the law will enable residents of Israel to pressure a spouse living abroad to come to Israel to undergo divorce in the Rabbinical Courts, and then agree to the court's conditions or risk being classified as a divorce objector and refused permission to leave the country.

Despite the objections, the bill is expected to pass as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is likely to invoke party discipline for the bill in the Likud, to gain support from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism faction for the state budget.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Mar. 27, 2005 19:13 | Updated Mar. 27, 2005 20:00
Proposal: More power to rabbinical court

The Knesset is due to vote in second and third readings on a bill authorizing the Israeli rabbinical courts to consider a divorce request from one partner of a Jewish couple married abroad if he or she becomes an Israeli citizen, even if the other partner has no connection to Israel.

The law will also apply in cases where both partners are Israeli citizens living abroad.
Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, a member of the Bar-Ilan Law Faculty, charged that the provision would create unfair pressure on the partner living abroad and open him or her up to blackmail and coercion.

Halperin-Kaddari, who heads the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at BIU, told The Jerusalem Post that the provision, initiated by NRP MK Yitzhak Levy, was tacked on to a government bill meant to provide remedy to non-Israeli Jewish women living abroad who have been denied a divorce by their husbands and therefore cannot remarry (agunot).

Unlike rabbinical courts abroad, the Israeli rabbinical court is empowered to order husbands to give their wives a divorce. The government provision would therefore provide a more effective alternative for Jewish women in the Diaspora to force their husbands to divorce them.

According to Halperin-Kaddari, Levy's private member's bill is not restricted to women but applies equally to men. According to the proposal, a member of a Jewish couple that has been married in a civil and religious marriage ceremony, may move to Israel, become a citizen according to the Law of Return, live here one year, and then apply to the court for a divorce. Such a move would force the other partner to come to Israel to carry out the divorce procedure, even if he or she has no connection to the country. The only condition regarding Levy's proposal is that the partner living abroad has not already filed for a civil divorce. Once a suit for divorce has been filed in one court, it cannot be heard by any other.

If the partner living abroad refuses to come to Israel, he or she may be declared a person who refuses to grant divorce, a designation which opens up the possibility of legal sanctions.

Last week, the Knesset Law Committee voted to integrate Levy's proposal into the government bill.

Halperin-Kaddari warned that the expanded legislation "could be turned into a tool for extortion by the partner living in Israel. The partner living in Israel may even prevent the other partner, who has no connection to Israel, from filing for a civil divorce abroad. The law could turn the problem of women refused divorce into an international problem under the sponsorship of Israeli law."

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

We're reaching the point where a kidushin l'halacha is more immoral than not. Perhaps it's time to add a couple of Aramaic words to ketuba, certifying that (1) there were no halachicly valid eidim (2) this document is not to be enforced by any beit din (3) the ketuba is automatically invalid if filed as part of Israeli rabbinical court proceedings.

At 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real reason the feminists are opposing this bill is because they are afraid it will give the rabbinical courts greater power over the Israeli Supreme Court. We should recall that this bill was drafted in the wake of a Supreme Court decision in which the court invalidated a rabbinic ruling that was IN FAVOR of a on agunah. At the time, the feminists sides against the woman.
The moral of the story: "Orthodox" feminists are more interested in weakening the rabbinic establishment than in helping women.


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