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
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.
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
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.