Supreme Court May Review Controversial Ruling on Divorce Decree

The Israeli Supreme Court indicated today that it might review a controversial ruling by one of it members which Deputy Attorney General Michael Cheshin claims is an infringement on the authority of Israel’s rabbinical courts.

Dr. Shimon Agranat, president of the Supreme Court, said he would announce his decision within two weeks. Because of the delicate matter of principle involved, a panel of five justices instead of the usual three, would conduct the review if the Court decides to undertake it, Cheshin asked the court to re-examine the ruling rendered by Justice Yoel Sussman in the case of a divorces who was branded an adulteress in a religious divorce decree handed down by a Beersheba rabbinical court a year ago. The decree forbade the woman to have relations with her lover, whom she hoped to marry, or with her former husband, Justice Sussman ruled that the divorce decree was not a religious but a civil document and that the woman should not be stigmatized, He did not challenge the rabbinical court’s right to ban her re-marriage on halachic grounds.

The ruling created a furore in religious circles and the rabbinical authorities said they would defy it, opening the possibility of a serious confrontation between the secular and religious courts in Israel.

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