Two Army Officers Denied Marriage Licenses Because They Are Considered Illegitimate

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan has intervened personally on behalf of two young Army officers who have been denied marriage licenses by the rabbinical court because according to religious law they are illegitimate children. He has taken the matter up at government level and is supported by Maj. Gen. Shlomo Goren, the chief chaplain of Israel’s armed forces, it was learned today. The case was kept secret for two months and came to light only after some of the details were leaked to the press. The names of the two officers who are brothers, were not given, According to the reports, their mother had been married to a Christian convert in Eastern Europe who disappeared after World War II. She emigrated to Israel and re-married without disclosing her previous marriage to the authorities. She bore two sons who entered the armed forces.

When they applied for marriage licenses the rabbinical authorities discovered their “faulty antecedents” and claimed that their mother’s second marriage was void and “forbidden” under religious law. They were denied the right to wed the girls of their choice because religious law allows illegitimate children to marry only other persons of illegitimate status. The rabbinical court’s decision is repugnant to a majority of Israelis and a new religious controversy seems inevitable. One authority said a way out would be to declare the mother’s first marriage void, thus establishing the legitimacy of her sons. Matters of marriage and divorce in Israel are the exclusive province of the Orthodox rabbinate under Israeli law. There is no civil marriage in the country. A recent proposal to the government by Gen. Dayan to amend the law brought a threat from the National Religious Party to quit the Cabinet.

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