Knesset Approves The Foreign Agunos Law

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Rabbi Goldschmidt with the Rabbis of France and Britain, chairman of the Standing Committee and Av Beis Din of London and the Rabbinical director of the conference, at the Standing Committee discussion on the subject of agunos in Monaco. (Eli Itkin) YERUSHALAYIM - The Knesset plenum has approved the amendment of the Rabbinical Courts (Marriage and

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The Knesset passed the Foreign Agunos Law last week. The law, which was passed as an amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction Law, authorizes Israeli Rabbinical courts to rule on cases of divorce for those who are not citizens or residents of Israel and impose sanctions on any Jewish men who enter Israel who refuse to provide a get to their wives.

The amendment to the law was passed in 2018 for three years as a temporary measure and has now been renewed as a permanent amendment.

“Since its enactment, the Temporary Order has resulted in the release of dozens of Jewish women from the Diaspora from their status as agunos,” the explanatory memorandum stated. “The majority of these women do not live in countries where there are legal and halachic means to force a get, and without the order, the Rabbinical courts in Israel didn’t have the authority to judge their claims for divorce and bring about their release from their aginus.”

The original version of the amendment, which was formulated by the previous government, was passed unanimously, in a rare cooperative vote of coalition and opposition MKs.

However, a heated debate took place prior to its passing due to the presence of representatives of women’s rights organizations, who made light of the plight of agunos in order to express opposition to the power of Batei Din.

UTJ Uri Maklev revealed the hypocrisy of the women’s organizations, saying: “When we came to the committee’s discussions, we thought that everyone would support the agunos. Many MKs and organizations came to the discussions but there was no consensus. It turned out that their opposition was against the authority of the Rabbinical courts. They weren’t willing to grant authority to the Rabbinical courts to take care of agunos. All your values are completely hypocritical – you throw them all out in order to harm the Rabbinical courts.”

Rav Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Rabbi of Moscow, who proposed the law, responded to its passing by stating: “Today brings good tidings for dozens of agunos around the world who until now have not been able to force their husbands to litigate before a court in Israel, or alternately to uphold the rulings of those courts abroad. There is a special symbolic significance in the fact that this event takes place on Chanukah, and brings light and hope to the lives of the agunot in the Diaspora”.

“There is great joy in the fact that all the parties represented in the Knesset, from the Charedi United Torah Judaism to the leftist secular Meretz party, supported this important law. Today, the people of Zion have shown their unity with Diaspora Jewry.”

“The acute significance of the new law lies in the fact that from the point of view of civil law in the Diaspora, it is enough for a husband to provide his wife with a civil divorce to be considered to be divorced, even if the couple was married according to Halakha. As a result, hundreds of recalcitrant husbands, who went on to have new families kept their wives unable to get remarried. This extraordinary law gives Israeli rabbinical courts the jurisdiction to impose sanctions against such husbands, even though they are neither citizens nor residents.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


6 COMMENTS

  1. the Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction Law, authorizes Israeli Rabbinical courts to rule on cases of divorce for those who are not citizens or residents of Israel and impose sanctions on any Jewish men who enter Israel who refuse to provide a get to their wives.

    How do they hear from the husband what his side is if he is neither a citizen nor resident of Israel?

  2. FORCING a גט makes it פסול!

    The secular state should NOT interfere in these matters, and the Rabbanut should stop pretending to have jurisdiction over cases that are not their own!