Rabbis Release IAF Romania Crash Widows of Vows
A special Beit Din (Jewish religious court) was convened Thursday upon the completion of the 30 day period of mourning for the six IAF airmen killed in a crash in Romania. It issued a final confirmation of the deaths of the airmen, in order to release the widows of their status as married women and enable them to remarry, if at some future date they choose to do so.
The Beit Din included the Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar; Rabbinical Judge Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky and Brig.-Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Chief IDF Rabbi. The court heard the testimony of the Military Rabbinate's and Medical Corps' identification experts, who presented clear evidence regarding the deaths of all six men.
In Jewish law, a married woman whose husband is missing has 'agunah' status, which does not allow her to remarry. A Beit Din can change her status, in accordance with Jewish Law, and great efforts are made to do so. These involve locating a missing husband and (sometimes) forcing him to sign a divorce decree, or releasing the wife from married status if the husband is believed to be dead or if a fault is found with the original marriage vows.
The IDF's chief rabbis have a tradition of forming special Batei Din for final identification of fallen soldiers and 'release' of their widows. The first such special Beit Din was formed by then-Chief IDF Rabbi Major-General Gad Navon during the Yom Kippur War. The Beit Din included Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, then Chief Sephardic Rabbi.