moshe gafni 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Women’s rights groups are concerned that the opposition government will support
the candidacy of United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni for a place on the
committee for appointing rabbinical judges.
The Jerusalem Post understands that a possible deal is in the works whereby Gafni will receive the backing of the opposition, of which UTJ is a part, in return for unilateral support of the opposition for a prominent member of the Labor party seeking election to the committee for electing Supreme Court justices.
Sources close to the Labor MK in question denied that a deal
had been made, but acknowledged that “the haredim are part of the opposition and
there are things that they want too.”
A spokeswoman for MK Merav Michaeli
(Labor) confirmed the MK had submitted her candidacy to be on the selection
committee for rabbinical judges.
A spokeswoman for Meretz said no
decision had been made on an opposition candidate and a Gafni spokesman
confirmed this, but added Gafni had served on the committee in the previous
The composition for the selection committee for rabbinical
judges is considered critical for the advancement of women’s rights, especially
in regard to divorce.
There are currently 10 members of the selection
committee, including two rabbinical judges from the Supreme Rabbinical Court,
two members elected from the Israel Bar Association, the justice minister, a
minister appointed by the prime minister, the two chief rabbis and two MKs.
Customarily, one MK is nominated by the coalition and one by the
Much of the casework of the state rabbinical courts deals
with divorce cases, in which women are generally at a disadvantage to men in the
proceedings because of the nature of Jewish law.
Women’s rights groups
also claim that many of the rabbinical judges are deeply conservative and fail
to protect women from extortion by their spouse in divorce
For several years, the selection committee for rabbinical
judges has not functioned normally. Internal political conflicts as well as an
injunction issued by the High Court of Justice due to the absence of any women
on the 10-member panel, has prevented the committee from
Because of this there are very few seats occupied on the
Supreme Rabbinical Court. Regional rabbinical courts require new appointments
which mean that the new committee will be influential to the composition of the
rabbinical courts system in the coming years.
The Ruth and Emanuel
Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women’s Status expressed anger on Monday
when hearing that support for Gafni was a possibility.
important that the MKs who are elected will lead to the appointment of
appropriate rabbinical judges, especially in relation to Supreme Rabbinical
Court, which these elections will greatly influence in the coming years,” said
Rackman Center Associate Director and Attorney Atara Kenigsberg.
state needs to take responsibility for the fate of the people who come to
rabbinical courts,” said Robyn Shames, executive director of the International
Coalition for Agunah Rights.
She continued that the state cannot abandon
the people to “haredi MKs for them to treat state rabbinical courts like private
Shames said the makeup of the selection committee is important
in gaging what the makeup of the rabbinical court will be and how the religious
law will be interpreted and implemented.
“Their decisions affect the fate
of many women going through divorce,” she added.
Gil Hoffman contributed
to this report.