Improving Rabbinical Courts
ICAR believes that in parallel to advocating for more comprehensive solutions to the problem of the Agunah we must also continue to work to improve the existing system. Towards this goal we act in three areas:
- Promoting legislative reforms that affect the Rabbinical Courts;
a. Ending the Race for Jurisdiction between the Rabbinical Courts and the Civil Courts;
b. Legislation to match the fees in the Rabbinical Courts and Civil Courts;
c. Legislation requiring adequate representation for women in the Committee for appointing Rabbinical Court Judges;
- Initiate administrative improvements in the work of the Rabbinical Courts;
- Advocate for the appointment of suitable Rabbinical Court Judges;
Who are the Rabbinical Court Judges?
Ultra orthodox or modern orthodox? Are they people with a liberal or ultra-orthodox outlook? Do they know the secular world or only that of their Yeshiva?
These are fundamental questions, as every person, even if they are a judge, see issues through their own experience, their own opinion, their own beliefs and viewpoint.
Who appoints the Rabbinical Court Judges?
Rabbinical Court Judges are appointed by the President of the State of Israel according to the recommendation of the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges Committee.
The head of the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges Committee is the Minister of Justice and the members are:
The two Chief Rabbis of Israel
Two Rabbinical High Court Judges
A Minister appointed by the Prime Minister
Two Knesset members
Two Attorneys appointed by The Bar Association
One female rabbinical court advocate (NEW!)
The Committee recommends candidates for the local Rabbinical Courts from a list of rabbis that are accredited with judging capabilities and to the High Rabbinical Court, from a list of Rabbinical Court Judges from the local Rabbinical Courts. The Chief Israeli Rabbinical Council accredits rabbis that have successfully passed a number of exams, both oral and written, to be on the list of rabbis with judging capabilities.
What are the politics behind the appointments?
Like all appointments that involve status and honor, so in the appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges are various pressures applied on the committee members. Every interest group tries to "push" their candidate forward and to influence the make-up of the judges in the Rabbinical Courts.
ICAR was instrumental in influencing the Israeli Bar Association to choose at least one women representative to the committee to ensure female representation.
ICAR leads campaigns demanding the appointment of Rabbinical Court judges that fulfill the criteria set out in the Law.
ICAR sends out letters and meets with the members of the committee demanding that they choose candidates that fulfill the criteria set out in the law and oppose the appointment of candidates that do not fulfill the criteria or that have a proven track record of harming Agunot. ICAR organizes protests outside the meetings of the committee calling for the appointment of suitable candidates and conducts publicity campaigns in this regard.
ICAR continuously scrutinizes the appointment of new candidates and the work of the Rabbinical Courts.