(photo credit: marc israel sellem)
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.
Of five local rabbinates questioned by the
, three said they do not permit women to testify.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
“On one hand, the Chief Rabbinate has said it will allow women
to testify. On the other, local rabbinates are not complying.”