Israel - Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law (5713-1953 - Equality Now

Israel - Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law (5713-1953

  • Country: Israel
  • Law status: Discriminatory law in force
  • Law Type: Marriage, Divorce, Polygamy & Wife Obedience

Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Israel’s Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law (5713-1953) cede jurisdiction over marriage to a sex discriminatory religious law, which provides that divorce depends solely on the will of the husband.

Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law (5713-1953):

1. Matters of marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel, being nationals or residents of the State, shall be under the exclusive jurisdiction of rabbinical courts.

2. Marriages and divorces of Jews shall be performed in Israel in accordance with Jewish religious law.

“Plonit v. Ploni”, The High Rabbinic Court, 1995:

“. . . even if it is true that she despises him there is no basis on which to force him to divorce her as it is written in the Shulchran Aruch [Medieval Compilation of Jewish law] section 37 page 2 ‘if the husband wants to divorce her,’ but there is not anything to obligate him and the authorities specified and it appears in the decrees of the rabbis that even to obligate him to divorce, without force, it is not allowed and this is from the language of the Shulchran Aruch which says ‘if he wants,’ that the matter depends only on what he wants, and we should therefore grant his appeal.”

“Plonit v. Ploni”, The Supreme Court of Israel, 1997:

“. . . there is no basis for us to intervene, within the confines of this court’s supervisory role, into the decisions of the religious courts. That is to say, we do not sit as a level of appeal for those courts . . . One must add that, according to Section 2 of the Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law 5713-1953, the law that the rabbinical courts should apply with regard to matters of marriage and divorce is the law of the torah [religious law]. The petitioner’s lawyer does not dispute that the rabbinical court did so [applied the religious law], and because the court did so, even if petitioner’s lawyer believes this law is not appropriate, there is no basis for us to intervene.”

Link to full law


The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (May 14, 1948): The State of Israel . . . will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex . . .

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