Months of exhaustive, painstaking labor by a special Beit Din (religious court) to make positive identification of Israel’s Yom Kippur War dead has resulted in relieving almost 1000 war widows of the status of aguna, thereby permitting them to re-marry if they wish. Aguna is the halachic term for a woman whose husband is missing but is not known with absolute certainty to be dead.
There is no longer a single case of aguna. Deputy Chief Chaplain of the Army Col. Cad Navon. announced in an article published last week describing the work of the Beit Din. Navon was a member of the special court as was the Chief Chaplain of Israel’s armed forces. Gen, Mordechai Piron and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
In one case a woman was saved from the problem of being an aguna by the fact that her husband’s first name was inscribed in the band of her wedding ring. The unidentifiable remains of a soldier found in the Egyptian zone of Sinai contained a similar ring with his wife’s first name and the date of the marriage. By checking with the various marriage registrars around the country, the Beit Din was able to establish the identity of the dead soldier and thus free his wife from aguna status. Col. Navon reported.
But in other cases, the Beit Din had to check the dental records of dead soldiers too badly scarred to be recognizable and had to sift through mountains of eye-witness accounts and testimony by medical doctors, dentists and other experts. Navon wrote. It also consulted halachic works, some of them still in manuscript form, to search out every possible way to relieve problem cases of the strictures of aguna status. he reported.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.