Rabbinates refuse women's marital status testimony

Policy enacted despite directive from Chief Rabbinate instructing local rabbinates to permit women to testify in this regard.

December 25, 2012 10:06
2 minute read.
ultra orthodox weeding in bnei brak

bridegroom 370. (photo credit: marc israel sellem)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Several local rabbinates are refusing to allow women to testify towards a person’s marital status for the purpose of marriage registration, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

This policy is being enacted despite an explicit directive from the Chief Rabbinate instructing local rabbinates to permit women to testify in this regard.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

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

The ITIM organization, an advisory NGO for religious services and a religious rights advocacy group, says that it frequently receives requests for help from women in particular who do not have male friends who know them well enough to testify on their behalf.

In order to register for marriage, a person must bring two witnesses who know them to testify before rabbinate officials that he or she is unmarried.

This is a bureaucratic process and not one required by Jewish law, and therefore there is no obstacle in Jewish law to allow women giving such testimony.

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


Additionally, the Chief Rabbinate itself has sanctioned the testimony of women as valid with regards to proving one’s marital status.

An official document of the Chief Rabbinate seen by the Post, and signed and approved by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, states explicitly that “it is permitted to accept female testimony for the purposes of [proving] unmarried status in marriage registration departments of local rabbinates throughout the country, before a marriage registrar or proxy.”

According to ITIM director Rabbi Seth Farber, the practice of not accepting women for such testimony is widespread.

The organization wrote to the Religious Services Ministry about the matter but received no response. The ministry subsequently told the Post that it was not aware of any local rabbinates that refuse to allow women to testify.

Following confirmation acquired by the Post that local rabbinates in Petah Tikva, Gush Etzion and Shoham are indeed refusing to allow women to testify, the ministry said that it would instruct all local rabbinates to reverse this policy.

Farber said that his organization expects the Religious Services Ministry “to develop a mechanism both to inform local registrars about this policy, and create a framework whereby it can be enforced.”

“This is another indication of the fact that chaos rules regarding regulations in the rabbinate,” Farber continued.

“On one hand, the Chief Rabbinate has said it will allow women to testify. On the other, local rabbinates are not complying.”

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery