Chief Rabbi Disqualifies Religious Court Rabbi for Refusing Wife a Divorce

The rabbinate should not approve a municipal rabbi or rabbinic judge tainted by criminality or refusing to give a get, said office of Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi

File photo: a get, or Jewish bill of divorce
Tali Meir

Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau disqualified a candidate to serve as a religious court rabbi for refusing his wife’s demand for a bill of divorce, called a 'get' in Hebrew, for several years.

Lau also ordered the drafting of a character and criminal record declaration form to include a statement saying the candidate was a get refuser.

At a session of the Chief Rabbinic Council convened last month to approve new rabbinic judges, Lau noticed that a particular candidate had refused for years to give his wife a get, and subsequenty removed him from the list. He also asked the council’s legal department whether get refusal was grounds for rejection from the religious court.

To be a religious court rabbi, candidates must be at least 30, married and with an “appropriate” lifestyle. Their candidacy must be reviewed by an expert rabbi.

The names of suitable candidates are submitted to the council, which automatically approves the reviewers’ decisions. In wake of the latest incident, Lau directed staff members to draw up the declaration form.

“Rabbi Lau does not agree ethically with the rabbinate approving a municipal rabbi or rabbinic judge who is tainted by criminality or refusing to give a get, and he asked the legal department to back him up,” a source in Lau’s office told Haaretz.