Organization Calls on Chief Rabbinate to Permit Women to Attest to Single Status of Marriage Candidates

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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)


7 COMMENTS

  1. There is no such requirement under Jewish law. If Torah wanted a central authority to investigate the yichus of everyone getting married (similar to how the many Christian sects do), there would be something in the Humas or the Talmud or the Shulhan Arukh. This is not only “Bal Tosef” (creating a new mitzvah, something that has never bothered the Israeli “rabbinate” which even created new yuntufs), but is also a shailoh of “Avodah zarah” since they are imitating several Christian denominations whose theology requires their priest to verify the eligibility of parties to a marriage.

  2. A quick look at their website (Itim) reveals that these people have an agenda and are only looking for recognition. They are clearly not acting L’shem Shamiyim and have no backing from any Gedolim at all. Even if their logic may sound reasonable, they should be ignored at all cost.

    Besides, the fact that the Rabbinut surely establish its rule for practical reasons, not pure Halachic reasons.

  3. “Attorney Elad Kaplan explains that one half of the applicants seeking to get married are female”

    It used to be that we could say the same thing here in New York.

  4. I’m not familiar with why this “policy” is still being enforced but I can tell you where it came from. Back when there was an influx of Russian and Ethiopia immigrants, the Rabbonim had no idea who was who, and who was actually Jewish. In order for these people’s marriages to be recognized by the state of Israel the Rabbanut asked for someone ( already validated as Jewish) to vouch for them. I don’t know maybe this system works, as there are still many foreigners that want to marry Israelis from many European countries.

  5. #1: There actually is a requirement under Jewish law for one to investigate the lineage of a prospective spouse, to verify if they are Jewish. In the case where the person’s lineage is not otherwise established, there are specifications for how many generations back one must investigate.

    The testimony of a woman is invalid in these investigations.

  6. #5- In Jewish law that was always dealt with by the people involved, not the government. The advantage of having it done by the people involved is they can easily use information from women or goyim, if relevant and trustworthy, since it isn’t something that a Beis Din rules.

    Remember that by halacha, not Israeli law, there is no reason why a man and a woman can’t get married with no help from any bureaucracy. Kids all love the mishna about the buy who tossed a veggie to the the girl on the balcony and that was enough. No paperwork.

    It is virtually impossible to prove you have never been married other than by making a statement to that effect. Under the Christian’s customs, one had to post public notices and have your wedding supervised by a priest – but we have no such rules. The rabbinate in trying to adopt procedures based on what European governments did, is being ridiculous. We survived precisely because we had no central bureauracy which gave us great resiliency.