Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem 150.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
A woman whose husband fled the country just two days after their wedding two
years ago has had her marriage annulled by a private Orthodox rabbinical
The man, referred to as Yud, absconded to the US and then demanded
his wife pay NIS 40,000 before he would grant her a bill of divorce.
Jewish law, a man must willingly grant the bill of divorce, or “get,” before a
woman can remarry and have children.
The woman, Shin, turned to the
Rabbinical Court of Netanya, one of the 12 local rabbinical courts of the state
rabbinical courts network, and requested that the marriage be annulled since it
was clear, she argued, that her husband never intended to live with her and had
planned to flee to the US before the wedding.
The rabbinical court
refused to take this step, however, and so Shin turned to an independent
rabbinical court comprising three well-known Orthodox rabbis: Rabbi Avraham Dov
Levine, a haredi rabbinical judge and president of the independent Jerusalem
Rabbinical Court for Property and the Clarification of Jewish Status in Mea
She’arim; Rabbi David Bigman, head of the nationalreligious Ma’aleh Gilboa
Yeshiva; and Rabbi Michael Avraham, a lecturer at Bar- Ilan
The convening of this independent court was initiated by
Mavoi Satum, a divorce rights lobbying group.
The independent court ruled
that although a get was preferable, the attempted extortion by Yud should not be
“We have unanimously decided that their marriage is annulled,
and the woman is permitted [to marry],” wrote the rabbinical judges in their
ruling given last month but published only this week. “It is preferable that a
get be given, but there is no need or justification whatsoever to pay for the
get. In a case of extortion, it is possible to annul the marriage without a
Mavoi Satum believes that the ruling proves that there is within
Jewish law the means, in certain cases, to annul marriages and prevent long-term
suffering to chained women whose husbands refuse to grant a get.
three rabbinical judges were, however, not entirely in agreement on the reasons
for granting the annulment, due to several highly unusual aspects of the
Yud is a convert, but his conversion has been questioned, since it
was done when he was a minor and he subsequently declared himself
Levine wrote that the main reason for his agreement to annul
the marriage was that he considered Yud not to be Jewish.
and Avraham wrote that it was clear that Yud had no intention of living with
Shin, attested to by the fact that he was living with a different woman in the
Had Shin known that Yud had no intention of living with her, she
would never have agreed to the marriage, and since marriage requires a woman’s
consent, the marriage was invalid retroactively, wrote Bigman and
Mavoi Satum will now seek to have Shin registered as single
instead of divorced in national marriage registration records, although this
will certainly be refused, since the state rabbinical court’s system does not
recognize the authority of independent rabbinical courts.
rabbinical court in Netanya has succeeded in securing a get from Yud, but only
after paying him the NIS 40,000 from state funds.
Even so, Shin will
still only be able to register as a single divorcee and not merely single in the
state marital status records.
Mavoi Satum has stated that in this case it
will appeal to the High Court of Justice for recognition of the ruling of the
independent court and the validity of such rabbinical courts in
In particular, the organization will point out that the rulings
of independent haredi courts are frequently accepted by the state rabbinical
court system regarding divorce and other issues.