Chief rabbi blocks divorce refuser from becoming rabbinic judge
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Chief rabbi blocks divorce refuser from becoming rabbinic judge

Rabbinate to require candidates to sign declaration they have no criminal background before sitting exams

Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau speaks at a ceremony for New immigrants from North America arrive on a special 'Aliyah Flight 2017' on behalf of Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion airport in central Israel on August 15, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau speaks at a ceremony for New immigrants from North America arrive on a special 'Aliyah Flight 2017' on behalf of Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion airport in central Israel on August 15, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A man who refused to give his wife a religious bill of divorce was blocked by the chief rabbi from becoming a rabbinic judge.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau has instructed the rabbinate to vet future candidates and make them sign a declaration that they have no criminal background and are not recalcitrant husbands who refuse their wives a divorce, or get, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

At the last meeting of the Chief Rabbinate council, the body was to authorize candidates who had passed the required exams to become sitting rabbinic judges. By chance, Lau recognized one of the names on the list as a figure who was refusing to grant his wife a divorce, according to the report.

In addition to barring the man from accreditation, Lau instructed his legal team to create a form that future candidates will have to sign stating they have no criminal past or outstanding legal cases, and have not withheld a divorce.

Previously, any candidate wishing to sit the exams had to provide a letter from a current rabbi testifying that he is suitable to become a rabbinic judge or city rabbi, and that his lifestyle is appropriate. But there is currently no specific requirement for the candidate to declare any criminal background.

Under Jewish law, a woman who is refused a get by her husband is considered an agunah, a chained woman, and is forbidden to remarry.

Accreditation from the Chief Rabbinate council is required before candidates can become rabbinic judges or city rabbis.

A spokesperson for the chief rabbinate told Haaretz, “Rabbi Lau does not agree on principle that the rabbinate can accredit someone who has a criminal past or refuses to divorce his wife to become a rabbi of a city or a judge on a court of law.”

“The chief rabbi will continue to take all the necessary steps to denounce divorce refusers,” his spokesperson told the newspaper.

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