A CWJ district court victory forced a magistrate’s court to carry out its mandate of upholding democracy. CWJ client Ruth Colian heads U’Bezchutan, Israel’s first Haredi women’s political party. Colian sued two Haredi dailies in magistrate’s court for discrimination when they suppressed the party’s campaigns in the 2015 Knesset elections. Unwilling to tangle with the rabbinate, the magistrates’ court dismissed Colian’s suit. CWJ appealed the decision in Lod District Court, which – in a show of determination to uphold democratic protocols over rabbinic intimidation – rejected the magistrates’ court decision.
In response to a CWJ tort case, a woman who was denied a Get for 11 years was awarded damages in the amount of a quarter of a million dollars. In an important new precedent, the Court imposed the payment not only on the husband, but also on a friend who assisted him. This is the first time that an individual, other than a relative of one of the parties, has been found to be an accomplice to the tort and forced to pay damages. In addition, this is also the first time that the Court held that the damage to the wife began on the day the husband left the house and not from the day the court ordered the husband must grant his wife a divorce.
- In response to CWJ's petition to the Supreme Court, the High Rabbinic Court overturned the District Rabbinic Court's decision and ruled that a minor is not a Mamzer. The question of principle in the petition is still pending in the Supreme Court. CWJ want to court to decide whether the Rabbinic Court has jurisdiction to make ruling with respect to minors who have not, by definition asked to marry or divorce.
- Following a woman's request for a marriage license, the District Rabbinic Court voided her mother's conversion, which had been overseen 30 years earlier by Rabbi Goren. CWJ appealed the decision and will petition the Supreme Court if necessary to challenge the Rabbinic Court's authority to repeal such conversions.
- Susan Weiss gave a lecture at the Jerusalem Bar Association about overreaching secondary legislation issued by the rabbinate and the Rabbinic Court that expands their jurisdiction beyond the existing legal parameters.
- CWJ petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of 4 women from O-WOW (Original Women of the Wall) asking the Court to examine the lawfulness of the regulation that effectively bans women from bringing in Torah scrolls to the Kotel. This regulation is an example of how the Rabbinate expands its jurisdiction using secondary legislation. In addition, CWJ also submitted a claim for damages using the law against discrimination from 2000 on behalf of 2 of the women, who had been refused access to the Torah scrolls at the Kotel and refused the right to pray according to their conscience.
- Susan Weiss gave a lecture at the bi-annual Kolech conference on "the blacklist" – how you are put on it and who cannot marry in Israel.
- CWJ represented Ruth Colian in law suit requesting the court to rule that the Hareidi papers 'Yom L'yom' and 'Yated Neeman' must publish Colian's ad advertising her bid for the Knesset as a Hareidi woman. The District Court ruled that the papers must publish Colian's ad. The Supreme Court overturned this decision for technical reasons. CWJ continues to represent Colian in her discrimination suit against the papers that refused to publish her ad.
- CWJ represented a woman whose husband refused to give her a get for 4 years. When he finally agreed, the District Rabbinic Court refused to arrange the get claiming that you cannot arrange a get on Rosh Hodesh. Due to extreme media pressure, the woman received her get that day.
- As a result of CWJ's petition to the Supreme Court, the Rabbinic Court was forced to request a social workers report regarding visitation rights of a former Hareidi mother with her minor sons, who live with their Hareidi father. The report recommended that the mother see her sons twice a week and the children can sleep at her home. The Supreme Court accepted the report and gave it official status overturning Rabbinic Court rulings on the matter.
- In preparation for Hanukah, CWJ sent a number of letters to Rabbi Rabinowitz, the commissioner of the Kotel, asking that he involve women in the candle lighting ceremonies at the Kotel. Such inclusion is in accordance with professional opinion 1526 of the Government and the Attorney General's office regarding the eradication of discrimination against women in the public sphere. Following CWJ's letters, the Deputy AG, Dina Zilber, admonished Rabinowitz that all public authorities must take special precautions against discriminating against women and must protect their basic rights of Human Dignity and equality in its various activities. Zilber also wrote that she wishes to ensure that Rabinowitz includes women in the national Hanukah lighting ceremonies at the Kotel.
- CWJ sent a letter to the Ministry of Religion protesting the building of a special walkway to be used only by men to use during the celebration held on Lag ba'omer at the burial site of Rashbi. CWJ requested that any new walkways built must also be accessible to women and demanded that no ushers be placed to prevent women from using them. The legal advisor of the Ministry of Religion responded that the main road leading up to the burial site will be open to all, men and women. Moreover, the legal advisor wrote that the new walk way planned will be accessible to all and women will not be prevented from using it.
CWJ petitioned the Supreme Court to rehear the case of a woman whose conversion was cancelled after her husband claimed, during divorce process, that she did not keep mitzvoth. The Supreme Court held in its original decision that the Special Conversion Court can reach the conclusion that a conversion was entered into under "false pretenses" and have jurisdiction to cancel a verdict given by them. The petition for rehearing by an expanded Supreme Court was rejected.
As the result of a CWJ Supreme Court Petition,a rabbinic court reverses its decision barring a custodial mother from bringing her children into contact with her female partner.
A CWJ legal action results in Supreme Court limitation of the rabbinate’s use of a law designed to protect Israelis residing abroadwho arechained to unwanted marriages. The rabbis had applied the law to detain a South African woman in Israel, in the hopes of forcing her to comply with her husband’s terms for granting a get. The Supreme Court disallowed use of the law in relation to civil matters.
A CWJ client receives her get after 12 years, despite a rabbinic court’s refusal to carry on get proceedings unless she dropped her tort case against her husband. This victory reinforces the reality that if a husband is willing, the get process proceeds unimpeded, even in the face of rabbinic court threats.
CWJ joins the fight against government sanctioned-exclusion of women, extracting a promise from the Ministry of Tourism not to tolerate the exclusion of women at Lag B'Omer events in Meron.
- A CWJ Supreme Court petition successfully pushes back on the jurisdictional overreach of the rabbinate. The issue centered on use of mikvahs (ritual baths), which fall under rabbinic authority and are publicly funded in Israel. In compliance with the Court, the rabbis issued directives prohibiting mikvah attendants from asking intrusive questions that violate a client’s right to privacy and freedom of conscience.
- In response to a CWJ petition, the Supreme Court forces the rabbinate to issue clear directives regarding procedures for placement on the State-held “adulterers” list. This constitutes a critical change from the status quo, and a significant move toward transparency requirements.
- CWJ sets a new legal precedent when a family court rules that a petitioner may bring a damage suit for get refusal against a third party who is not a family member if he or she is involved in the withholding of the get. This ruling marks a significant milestone in that it holds all parties to get recalcitrance accountable - regardless of familial connection.
- Jerusalem Family Court awards damages to a second CWJ client after she received her get. The client, who had sued her ex-husband for get refusal, was awarded NIS 200,000. This case reinforces CWJ’s assertion that damage suits for get refusal are paid for harm done and should be independent of the get itself.
- Knesset passes legislation to ensure spots for at least four women on the Committee to Appoint Rabbinic Judges, reflecting CWJ’s 2012 petition to the Supreme Court, which called for proportional representation for women on the Committee.
- CWJ’s petition to the Supreme Court convinces the Rabbinate to adopt a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with regard to use of State-funded mikvahs (ritual baths), enabling all Jewish women—regardless of marital status—to immerse in accordance with their conscience.
- Family Court awards NIS 984,000 to a CWJ client who sued her ex-husband for get refusal after receiving her get. This case demonstrates, for the first time, that damage suits for get refusal are independent of the get itself.
- CWJ founder and director, Susan Weiss, co-authors Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel's Civil War. This book highlights human rights abuses in Israeli Rabbinic Courts and argues for the legislation of civil marriage and divorce in Israel.
- The Supreme Court responds to a landmark case filed by CWJ against the rabbinic court for repealing some conversions and discrediting all conversions issued by Rabbi Haim Druckman. The Court reprimands the Rabbinic Court for repealing conversions and sends the case back for review.
- The Supreme Court rejects a husband’s request to appeal a lower court decision awarding NIS 700,000 to his wife, noting that actions taken by the wife do not in any way justify the petitioner’s resolve to keep her chained as an agunah—from either a legal or halachik perspective.
- CWJ petitions the Supreme Court, challenging the right of rabbinic courts to inquire into the sexual conduct of spouses asking to adjudicate a no-fault divorce.
- CWJ convinces District Court to deny a husband's appeal of a decision awarding his wife damages of NIS 700,000 for get refusal.
- More than 300 online columns, written by CWJ Rabbinic Court pleader Rivkah Lubitch, have appeared on the popular news website, YNet, informing hundreds of thousands of readers across Israel about discriminatory activity in the Rabbinic Courts.
- CWJ convinces Family Court to award a CWJ client damages for get refusal, and repayment of money that she had paid to husband in exchange for get (600,000 NIS + $15,000).
- Family Court declares void clauses in a divorce agreement, authorized by the Rabbinic Court, in which a mother waived her parental rights in exchange for her get.
- The Supreme Court rules on CWJ’s 2006 petition to stop Rabbinic Courts from using taxpayer money (“agunah fund”) to pay recalcitrant husbands in exchange for agreeing to divorce their wives; and to stop the National Insurance Institute from waiving debts of recalcitrant husbands for the same purpose. The judgment ordered the establishment of a special oversight committee to greatly curtail this problematic practice, even though it rejected CWJ’s petition.
- CWJ introduces Savta Bikorta, five YouTube clips which describe the abuses that occur in Rabbinic Courts.
- CWJ convinces Rabbinic Court to use a Jewish legal loophole to find that a woman's two children no longer bear the stigma of mamzer (child born to a woman as a result of her extramarital relationship). The Rabbinic Court had placed the stigma on the children when the woman entered into a new relationship after her husband had denied her a get for many years.
- CWJ convinces Labor Court to disqualify a tender issued by the Rabbinic Court Administration, which would have given preference to men applying for jobs as legal assistants to rabbinic judges.
- In two separate cases, CWJ convinces Family Courts to rule that a husband is liable for damages even before a Rabbinic Court has "ordered" him to divorce his wife. Wives are awarded NIS 550,000 and NIS and NIS 700,000.
- CWJ convinces Family Court to declare that there is cause of action for damages against family members who aid and abet get recalcitrance.
- By petitioning the Labor Court, CWJ convinces the Rabbinic Court Administration to withdraw a tender which would have barred women from acting as legal advisors to rabbinic judges.
- The Canadian Supreme Court upholds a decision awarding $47,000(Canadian) to a woman whose husband breached an agreement to grant a religious divorce, citing CWJ’s Jerusalem Family Court precedent of 2004.
- Jerusalem Family Court judge awards a CWJ client NIS 425,000 in damages for get refusal.
- CWJ was founded.
- (Future) CWJ founder and director, Susan Weiss, convinces Family Court to rule that a claim for damages for get refusal exists under Israeli law Court.
Awards and Citations
2013 - Susan Weiss receives Jewel Bellush Israeli Feminist
- 2011 - CWJ’s activities are termed “game-changing” in a Ha’aretz article, which included CWJ founding director Susan Weiss on its list of 10 most influential Anglo immigrants in 2011.
- 2009 - Israel Bar Association awards Women in Law Award to Susan Weiss.
- 2007 - La’Isha magazine chooses Susan Weiss for its “Alternative Torch-Bearer” Award.