British man banned from leaving Israel until rabbinical court rules on his divorce
The unnamed man must remain until rabbinical court hears his wife’s application for get
Simon Rocker | May 19, 2023
Israel’s highest court has ruled a British man must remain in the country until a local rabbinical court hears his wife’s application for a religious divorce.
In a precedent-setting move, the unnamed man has been told by Israel’s Supreme Court that he must stay in the country while the Tel Aviv Beth Din considers his wife’s claim that she be should granted a get to end their marriage.
The couple, who are part of an Orthodox community in Manchester, have been involved in a long running dispute over their divorce.
When her estranged husband went to Israel on an extended visit the woman, who is originally from London, applied to the local beth din to intervene.
Her husband and his legal team objected to the Tel Aviv body’s intervention, claiming it had no jurisdiction in the case, as the couple were married and had always lived in the UK.
However, the husband failed to persuade Israel’s Supreme Court when he appealed to it.
The wife’s lawyer, Dina Raichik from the Ohr Torah Stone network’s Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center, said the Supreme Court decision would have “a major effect on those women who would have been left without a get but who would want to use Israeli law to get one”.
It comes five years after Israel introduced a law to enable Jews from the diaspora to apply to the country’s rabbinical courts to help them obtain a Jewish divorce. The initially temporary law was subsequently made permanent.
In Israel, which has no civil marriage or divorce, these courts are part of the formal legal system.
Under Jewish law, a get must be given and received freely. However, measures can be taken if one party objects.
“They can take away a driving licence, put a lien on a bank account and in extreme cases, the person can end up in jail if they refuse to give a get,” Raitchik explained.
In this case, the woman had approached the Manchester Beth Din about a divorce a few years ago. “He refused to give a get in Manchester,” the lawyer said.
However, Zemach Green, the husband’s lawyer, said there had been no hearing at the Manchester Beth Din and no ruling in the case.
A spokesperson for the Manchester Beth Din said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases unless we have permission from both husband and wife.”
The husband was ordered to remain in Israel by the Tel Aviv Beth Din in November 2021.
The husband’s lawyer said the restraining order preventing his client from leaving the country was standard procedure to ensure someone turned up for a hearing, not a form of sanction.
“My client fought the idea that a rabbinical court in Israel could try the case against him in this situation,” he said.
A hearing will take place at the Tel Aviv Beth Din this month.