Chief Rabbi rejects divorce refuser

Family Law|October 29th 2017

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, is reported to have rejected a candidate for the post of judge in the rabbinical courts because he had previously refused to grant his wife a divorce.

The traditional Jewish divorce procedure requires a husband to give his wife a get, a formal divorce document. This contains the ceremonial phrase in Hebrew “you are hereby permitted to all men” and renders the divorce legal. Problems arise, however, if the husband refuses to grant the get, perhaps because his wife demanded a divorce against his wishes . Such wives are  left in legal limbo, unless and until their spouse relents – but such divorce refusers come under a considerable amount of social pressure to back down.

At a recent meeting to discuss candidates who had passed their judging exams, Haaretz reports, Rabbi Lau recognised a name on the list as someone known for having refused a get.

So he was in turn refused accreditation and the Chief Rabbi went on instruct this team to create a new requirement that candidates for the role of judge in the rabbinical court must in future sign a document declaring that they have no criminal record and that they have not refused a get.

A spokesman for the Chief Rabbi’s office told the newspaper:

 “Rabbi Lau does not agree on principle that the rabbinate can accredit someone who has a criminal past or refuses to divorce his wife to become a rabbi of a city or a judge on a court of law.”

He added:

“The chief rabbi will continue to take all the necessary steps to denounce divorce refusers.”

Photo of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock by AVRAHAM GRAICER via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Author: Stowe Family Law


  1. Helen Dudden says:

    It was suggested that Synagogues could refuse to accept those who break the Halacha, Jewish Religious Law, on the subject.
    This in turn could obviously restrict the every day life style.

  2. Andrew says:

    Those who care about the synagogue won’t refuse and those who refuse don’t care about the synagogue.
    At the moment in England a husband can dictate the terms of the financial settlement. The Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act does not help when it is the wife who wants the divorce, and that’s two divorces in three.
    I dopn’t believe that there is no solution. Where there is a rabbinical will there is a halachic way.

  3. Helen Dudden says:

    But it does happen. So there has to be a way to make things happen.
    For sometime, I’ve been involved in both international child access and also the English failings. It’s important that peace between the partners happens. Of course, relationship breakdowns are painful, but to refuse to end, is not the answer. I have every sympathy with those caught up in a relationship breakdown.
    If mediation worked that could help as well.

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