Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Israeli Knesset Passes Law Requiring 4 Women On Rabbinical Judges Selection Committee

In Israel, government-appointed judges of rabbinical courts have jurisdiction over issues of Jewish marriage and divorce in the country.  The rabbinical court judges are chosen by the Selection Committee for Rabbinical Judges.  The Jerusalem Post and New York Jewish Week report that Israel's Knesset yesterday, over strong objections by haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, passed a law increasing the size of the selection committee from 10 to 11, and requiring that 4 of 11 places on the committee be reserved for women.  Women's advocacy groups hope this will lead to the appointment of judges who are more attuned to women's concerns, particularly in divorce cases. Under past law, the selection committee was made up of Israel's two chief rabbis, two judges from the Rabbinic Court of Appeals, two government ministers, and two lawyers representing the Israel Bar Association. Under the new law, which will take effect only after the next Knesset elections, one of the representatives from the government, one from the Knesset and one from the bar association will be women. Also the Minister of Justice will appoint a fourth woman who must be a rabbinical courts advocate.