JERUSALEM (Jul. 11)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan sharply criticized Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim last night for failing to reopen the case of an Israeli brother and sister branded “mamzerim” (bastards) by the rabbinate and therefore denied the right to marry” legitimately born Jews.” Appearing on a television question and-answer program. Gen. Dayan called the affair “a first rate scandal.” He said Rabbi Nissim did not convene a rabbinical court under his chairmanship to rehear the case despite his promise to the Defense Minister that he would and despite new evidence accumulated by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren of Tel Aviv, the former Army chief chaplain.
Sources close to Rabbi Nissim said today that Dayan’s attack was unwarranted. They claimed that Dayan knew that Rabbi Nissim had tried to appoint a special rabbinical court to rehear the case but was prevented from doing so by pressure from ultra-Orthodox rabbis that forced the prospective appointees to withdraw.
The subjects in the case are Hanoch and Miriam Langer who were adjudged to be “mamzers” according to halacha (religious law) because there was no record of their mother having obtained a religious divorce from her first husband before she married their father. Gen. Dayan and Rabbi Goren took up their case because the Langers were both in the Army at the time of the rabbinate’s decision. They have since left the Army. Both are engaged to marry but refuse to be married on Cyprus as many Israelis are to avoid rabbinical strictures, because their future children would be adjudged “mamzers” by the Israeli rabbinate.