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'Accept women's marriage registration testimony'
By JEREMY SHARON
02/01/2013
Chief Rabbi Metzger to issue directive to accept women’s testimony regarding martial status for purposes of registration.
 
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said on Wednesday that the Chief Rabbinate will be sending out a directive to all local rabbinates in the coming days instructing them to accept women’s testimony as to a person’s unmarried status for the purposes of marriage registration.

As The Jerusalem Post reported last week, several local rabbinates have refused to allow women to testify in this regard, despite the fact that it does not contravene Jewish law and that Metzger himself gave authorization for the acceptance of female testimony almost a year ago.

ITIM, a religious rights advocacy group, has claimed that this phenomenon has become widespread.

Of five local rabbinates questioned by the Post last week, three said they do not permit women to testify.

Speaking on Army Radio Wednesday morning, Metzger said that his office was in the process of issuing a directive to all local rabbinates instructing them to accept female testimony regarding marital status.

He said that he had received approval from the late Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the spiritual leader of haredi Jewry until his death in July, for female testimony in this regard.

Generally, Jewish law prevents women from giving legal testimony, although there are exceptions.

For the purposes of marriage registration, an individual must bring two witnesses who know him or her personally to testify before rabbinate officials that he or she is unmarried, but this is a bureaucratic process, not one required by Jewish law, and therefore there is no obstacle in Jewish law to prevent women from giving such testimony.

Hiddush, a religious freedom lobbying group, said it welcomed the fact that “the Chief Rabbinate has discovered that which the enlightened world had revealed many years ago – that the testimony of a woman is equal to that of a man.”

Hiddush director Uri Regev, who is both a Reform rabbi and an attorney, said however that he had reservations about whether or not “extremist local rabbinates” would heed the directive.
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