Freedom from Religion in Israel

Civil Marriages and Cohabitation of Jews Enter the Rabbinical Courts

in Israel Studies Review
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The only form of marriage that is recognized under Israeli law is religious marriage. Following the Supreme Court's ruling in the landmark 1963 Funk-Schlesinger case, Israeli authorities must register couples who marry abroad as married. In a 2006 decision, the Supreme Court held that the rabbinical court system has jurisdiction over the divorce of couples who marry civilly abroad and that it has exclusive jurisdiction over the dissolution of civil marriages of Jews residing in Israel. The Court's decision was based on Halachic principles and was pre-approved by a rabbinical court panel. However, rabbinical courts have been insisting on performing a full get (religious divorce) procedure even for civilly married couples. This article analyzes this phenomenon and speculates as to the reasons for and the direction of these developments.