Women want female rabbinical head

Advocacy groups file High Court petition enabling female to fill role.

woman with torah 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
woman with torah 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Women’s and social advocacy groups filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, demanding that he clarify why a woman wouldn’t be able to vie for the position of director of the rabbinical courts.
Alternatively, the petition in the name of The Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Bar-Ilan University, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Kolech Forum and other groups, calls on the minister to determine that the law’s wording, which currently does not enable a woman to apply for the job, is not constitutional and against women’s rights.
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The petitioners also request that the court order appropriate representation for women on the advisory committee to appoint the head of the rabbinical courts, which was formed by Neeman.
In June, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan’s term as head of the rabbinical courts, a post he held for some 20 years, was brought to an end following the implementation of recently instated government regulations that set time limitations on the tenure of public officials.

The petition came after the rabbinical court administration published a tender for the position over the weekend, requiring that applicants be eligible for appointment as rabbinical judges or city rabbis.
Women cannot fill either of these roles, and this legal condition creates inherent discrimination against women, according to the petition.
Two women have already expressed a will to vie for the position.
Attorney Ricky Shapira-Rosenberg of IRAC stressed that the petition was a direct continuation of the High Court ruling of 1987, which determined that there was no halachic limitation to a woman serving on a religious council, since the nature of such work was largely administrative.