97% of rabbinical court Jewishness vetting declared as Jewish

Rabbinical Courts Jewish Studies Director
Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon: 'In recent years, some 55,000 people brought into Israel.'

Mordechai Sones,

Vetting inquiry
Vetting inquiry

97% of Jewishness vetting inquiries made in rabbinical courts in recent years are declared Jewish, it emerged today when the Knesset Committee on Immigration and Absorption discussed the reasons or arguments of parties in the Rabbinical Courts that make such inquiries.

Committee Chairman MK Avraham Negosa (Likud) said "the Attorney General asked the Chief Rabbis to set guidelines on such an inquiry, and it would apply only to a litigant or one seeking to marry - and not to a third party. Lists of non-Jews prepared before these guidelines went into effect were transferred to the Population Authority, and it was not yet clear what was done with them."

According to initiator MK Yulia Malinovski (Yisrael Beiteinu), in the last ruling of the Rabbinical Court in a Haifa divorce proceeding in which the man claimed his wife was engaged in prostitution, the court ruled that the claim raises doubts about her Jewishness. Following this, the court called to open an inquiry to clarify the woman's Jewishness. How can sexual tendencies attest to Judaism - while this step of the rabbinical court is also unacceptable according to the Attorney General's instructions?!"

Rabbinical courts legal advisor Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi noted that 97% of the Jewishness vetting inquiries end with proof that the arbitrators are Jews. "The law requires marriage between Jews to be conducted properly, and therefore the law obligates us to clarify the Jewishness of the two sides - if there is a suspicion or doubt.

"In a specific case, there was concern, and the inquiry revealed that the woman was indeed not Jewish, that she and her mother forged documents, including an inquiry made by the police, In the event that it turns out that one of the spouses is non-Jewish, the proceedings are terminated and transferred to a family court. The guidelines state the court has no authority to perform a divorce between non-Jews. A man's claims, made not in good faith, are raised in a divorce proceeding, and these claims are also examined, despite their biased motive. The Attorney General can not give instructions to dayanim - just as he doesn't give instructions to the judges."

Rabbinical Courts Jewish Studies Department Director Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon added that in recent years, some 55,000 people, 97% of the applicants, have been brought into the Jewish People. In a few cases it turned out that the applicant was indeed non-Jewish. "Do you suggest that we close our eyes to the facts and declare him a Jew?!"

Chotam organization legislation department head Avner Porat noted that "the measures taken by the courts are a duty, not a right. A duty towards the absolute majority of Israeli residents who wish to marry Jews, a public obligation vis-a-vis the State of Israel that wishes to maintain one society, and a duty to investigate a suspected legal subterfuge."

According to Justice Ministry representative attorney Bat Sheva Sherman-Shani, prostitution can not be grounds for a Jewishness inquiry.

Attorney Elad Kaplan of the Itim Jewish Life Information Center, an organization that seeks to help the public with religious services in Israel and has a record of criticizing the Chief Rabbinate, claimed that in many recent divorce cases men claim their wives not to be Jewish according to Jewish law. "This is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to social cohesion." A debate began over whether the committee could discuss the pending case that is now clearly in the Rabbinical Court, as the legal guidelines prohibit it.