The Itim Resources & Advocacy for Jewish Life organization has turned to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, seeking a change in the current process to permit women to attest to one’s single status prior to one being cleared for marriage.
After a person opens a file with a local rabbinate in the city of one’s residence, part of the process of being cleared for marriage is to bring two witnesses who sign attesting the male/female is known by them and is single, not married to anyone at present. This is added to information attesting to the couple being Jewish and other documents, ultimately receiving the green light from the rabbinate to get married.
To date, only men are eligible to attest to the single status of a person in most local rabbinates. Itim feels that since there is no real Halachic reason for this testimony, a woman should be able to sign as well. This Itim feels will facilitate the process for men and women alike, for they must persuade a friend to take time out of a busy schedule to report to a local rabbinate during operating hours to sign the form. The ‘witness’ is not asked for proof, simply asked to state he knows the person and s/he is currently unmarried.
Itim sent a request to Rav Chizkiyahu Samin, who heads the marriage unit of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, requesting to instruct all local rabbinate offices around the nation to permit women to make the statement. In some cities, women are accepted while in others, this is not the case. Itim points out this is not a matter of איסור והיתר regarding marriage or divorce but simply an administrative step.
Attorney Elad Kaplan explains that one half of the applicants seeking to get married are female, and they may known more women willing to go and sign than men, and the disqualification of women makes this more difficult than necessary.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)