Since the Israeli bar association announced this week that it had elected two male representatives to serve on the “Committee for the appointment of rabbinical court judges,” there has been a justified cry to review the entire process associated with this important station in Israeli society. For some, the fact that no women now serve on the committee is an outrage, while for others this is another demonstration that the rabbinical courts are controlled by the ultra-orthodox.
It is possible, though, that this round in the battle for the rabbinical courts will- in the long run – serve the interests of Israeli citizens, by creating a backlash against the rabbinical courts and particularly those two new members of the committee. Had a woman been appointed to the committee, no one would have paid attention to the wheeling and dealing behind the appointment of rabbinical court judges. Now, there is a spotlight on this process.
Moreover, the new, male members of the bar will have to bend over backwards to choose judges who are sympathetic to women’s rights, as the public will now be focused to see if they follow through on their promises.
I don’t know the candidates who were elected. But I do hope that they are not inured to the genuine anguish expressed around Israel for a lack of sensitivity among rabbinical court judges. One can only hope that this latest melee will lead to greater transparency and ultimately, a better experience for the end user who chooses (or is forced) to go to the rabbinical courts.