Funeral for Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims
Funeral for Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victimsReuters

After establishing a special court under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, Rabbi Michael Amos and Rabbi Yaakov Roza discussed the halakhic status of those who perished in the Boeing 737 Ethiopian Airlines crash making its way from Ethiopia to Kenya earlier this month.

The court took testimonies from search-and-rescue volunteers who were in the area of ​​the disaster, and received official documents from the Ethiopian government and the Foreign Affairs and Aviation ministries. After a number of deliberations and meetings, the special court issued a long ruling that the families must observe the shiva mourning period for their loved ones. According to testimonies and evidence presented to the court, the judgment stated that the agunot would be released from their status following the process of identifying the remains of the bodies yet to be found.

The ruling read, in part: "Following requests by widows of those who perished in the disaster, the Ram and Matzliach families to the Chief Rabbi of Israel, member of the Grand Court, and President of the Chief Rabbinate Council Rabbi Yosef Yosef, asking that he instruct them whether to sit shiva for their relatives and to address their personal status. After no clear body parts belonging to the Israeli victims were found, and after a discussion with the representatives of the Interior and Foreign Affairs Ministries, it was decided to establish a special court to discuss the personal status of the victims.

"ZAKA rescue organization Chairman Rabbi Yehuda Meshi Zahav and ZAKA volunteer Mr. Eliezer Samet, who were present at the site immediately after the disaster in Ethiopia, testified before the court about the findings they had seen in the disaster area. The court was also presented a number of documents found on the site, as well as a number of documents that directly link to the Israeli victims, as well as a document of the Ethiopian Airlines, a list of all the people who boarded the plane, the Jews who were on board the plane, as well as the testimonies of Jews who saw the Israeli victims on board, and the court was also given official documents from the Ethiopian authorities confirming that the Israeli casualties were on board.

"After all the testimonies, findings, and documents presented before the special court, and after a number of deliberations and after another meeting of the special court today in the Chief Rabbi's office, the court ruled that the families must sit shiva for their relatives. In a long and reasoned ruling on a number of pages in which many halakhic sources appear, the special court ruled the families must observe shiva, tear their garments, say the kaddish prayer, and behave as mourners."

After receiving the special court's ruling, the families announced they began sitting shiva for their loved ones and published mourners notices. In the ruling, the rabbinical judges say that with regard to permitting women to marry, although there are already many reasons to permit, the matter will be discussed after identification of the bodies remains is completed in a few months.