Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday night called for dayanim, or rabbinical
judges, to shut down the Supreme Rabbinical Court for Appeal in protest over the
ongoing suspension of the appointments committee for rabbinical
The committee was suspended by the High Court in November
following a petition by the Emunah women’s rights groups protesting the complete
absence of women on it for the first time in 12 years. Emunah argued that the
lack of female representation on the committee violates gender equality
Speaking at a conference of dayanim
at Kibbutz Lavi, Metzger blamed
women’s rights groups for the current impasse, which is preventing appointments
from being made, in particular to the supreme rabbinical court for appeals, the
Beit Din Hagadol.
“Hundreds of cases are seen by the supreme rabbinical
court, the dayanim
are collapsing under the weight of the burden and those
seeking the court’s judgements suffer,” Metzger said Monday night. “Are they
responsible for the fact that the Bar Association did not choose a female
delegate for the committee?” Israel Hayom reported.
In November, the
Israel Bar Association – which elects two delegates to the dayanim
committee – held its elections for the posts and selected two men, despite a
promise by the head of the largest political faction within the Bar that he
would back a female candidate.
“This time [the Bar Association] elected
two men, that’s their decision, it’s not connected to us at all, but yet they
chose to attack us... and have had the [appointments] process stopped.” Metzger
Emunah chairwoman Liora Minke told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday
that she “identified” with the chief rabbi’s sentiment but that he was assigning
the blame to the wrong address.
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“Metzger’s anger is misdirected, it
should be turned towards those political parties who are causing the problem,”
she said. “The state needs to find an answer to this issue so it must be
demanded of them.”
On Monday, United Torah Judaism and Shas vetoed
coalition approval for a bill that would reserve two places on the committee for
women, claiming that it was infringement of the status quo of affairs of
religion and state for which they are entitled to veto coalition support,
according to the coalition agreement.
A spokesman for Metzger told the
Post on Tuesday that he was not opposed to such a bill.
courts system has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters of marriage and
divorce. Women’s rights groups are lobbying for women to be appointed to the
selection committee because of the influence dayanim
have over cases in which a
man refuses to give a bill of divorce to his wife, preventing her from
The supreme rabbinical court hears appeals of decisions made
by the 12 regional religious courts.
There are currently only two dayanim
remaining on the Beit Din Hagadol, who are joined by the two chief rabbis who
also serve on the court. The total number of positions is not strictly defined
and has fluctuated between five and nine rabbinical judges in recent
Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubenstein proposed in January that
a seat be added to the 10-member committee for the current term, which would be
reserved for a woman. The state is expected to respond to the proposal this
Minke also pointed out that there have been no appointments to the
rabbinical supreme court for several years before Emunah’s High Court
Disagreements between ultra-Orthodox committee members and more
religiously moderate members over candidates, specifically MK Otniel Schneller
and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, have stalled the appointments
The committee comprises Metzger and his Sephardic counterpart
Shlomo Amar, two dayanim
from the supreme rabbinical court, two ministers – one
of whom must be the minister of justice – two MKs and two delegates from the
Israel Bar Association.
A simple majority is required to appoint a dayan
but unanimity is preferred, and as chairman of the committee, Neeman has also
prevented the committee from convening and voting.
The second minister on
the committee is currently Shas leader Eli Yishai, the second MK is Moshe Gafni
of UTJ and the two recently elected delegates from the Bar Association are
Mordechai Eisenberg, who is haredi, and Asher Axelrod, who is
Rabbi Shlomo Daichovsky, the director of the rabbinical courts
system, told the Post that if the Knesset wanted to reserve places for women on
the committee then it should pass legislation to that effect, but failure to
pass such a law should not prevent the appointments committee from functioning.
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