Number of Divorces in Israel Down Last Year, Reversing Trend

But in the big cities more couples untied the knot.

Moti Milrod

Fewer Israelis are getting divorced than in the past, according to the annual report released Monday by the rabbinical courts. According to the figures, divorce in Israel as a whole is no longer on the rise, and was even down by 2 percent in 2014. However, in the big cities, divorce is still on the rise.

In 2014, 11,023 couples applied for divorce, as opposed to 11,249 couples in 2013.

In addition to fewer divorce applications there were fewer applications to the rabbinical courts in general, including alimony suits, inheritance cases, clarification of Judaism and adoption. The number of new files of all kinds in 2014 was 89,551 as opposed to 90,237 cases in 2013.

The report includes optimistic figures on the functioning of the rabbinical courts. For example, in 2013 it took an average of 96 days to close a divorce case, as opposed to 2014, when it took only 56 days.

Rabbinical courts are acting more harshly toward men who refuse to grant their wives a divorce, according to the figures. The courts imposed sanctions on 191 men in 2014, as opposed to 168 men the previous year.

In response to these figures, attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, director of Mavoi Satum, an organization that assists women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce, said: “As opposed to the rosy picture painted by the figures, the Supreme Rabbinical Court, the highest appeals court, is not functioning at all. Many women, including our clients, have an average wait for a hearing in the Supreme Rabbinical Court of a year to a year and a half, even in cases of severe violence.”

Jerusalem is at the top of the list of Israel’s big cities in terms of divorce: In 2014, 874 couples untied the knot, as opposed to 733 in 2013. In second place is Tel Aviv, in which 779 couples split, compared with to 678 the previous year. In Haifa the figure was 629 divorcing couples in 2014, up from 502 the year before.