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What constitutes grounds for divorce in Israel’s rabbinic courts? Are these grounds the same for men and for women?
These issues were the focus of the third seminar in CWJ’s educational series for legal professionals, held in partnership with the Jerusalem Bar Association on September 11, 2013. The event aimed to familiarize attorneys with the fundamentals of halacha (Jewish law) pertaining to divorce, which are the foundation for rabbinic court decisions. This topic is crucially important for family law attorneys representing women in rabbinic courts, because the large majority are insufficiently familiar with the nuances of the halakhot.
The seminar featured two sessions. In the first, CWJ founding director, attorney Susan Weiss, outlined the halachic treatment of the various grounds for divorce and, based on her extensive experience, suggested practical guidelines for optimizing outcomes for the wife. In the second presentation, Rabbi Dovid Bas, an attorney, rabbinic court judge and lecturer at the Tel Aviv University School of Law, delved into the historic evolution of the present iteration of the law.
The 30 seminar participants praised the event as instructive and important.
One attorney’s comments were representative of the oral and written feedback CWJ received on the event. “I deal with these types of cases on a day-to-day basis,” she wrote. “So for me, the entire lecture was extremely useful. In particular, the practical analysis of rabbinic court cases and decisions was most valuable, as it gave me concrete ways to deal with these situations.”
Many voiced the opinion that the time allocated to this subject was far too short, and that a follow-up seminar should be held to explore this issue in the required depth.
Directed gifts from the Boston Jewish Community Women’s Fund, David Berg Foundation, Greater Miami Jewish Federation Women’s Amutot Initiative, Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, Inc., and the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation of Greater Washington are supporting this program, along with those donors whose general support provides a secure foundation for advancing the project. CWJ is grateful to these generous friends, who are making it possible for Israeli attorneys to gain new knowledge and expertise that can help them better represent women in cases of divorce.