Civil Unions Won’t Break the Chains

Nov. 21, 2013

By Netty C. Gross-Horowitz

Jewish marriage and divorce ceremonies in Israel and the United States, have become news items lately. Obtaining the "get," a divorce document, given by the husband of his own "free will," is handled differently in each country, but the root of the problem and its eventual outcome are often the same. It's hard to say where things are worse in these two large centers of Jewish life; one country won't get involved in religious disputes; the other country, which views religious law as the law (in these "personal status" matters only) won't enforce the law.

The heart of the trouble in both cases is in the interpretation of a certain biblical verse, (made for ancient gender identities and interpreted over the centuries by Orthodox rabbis and scholars,) in which only the husband can decide to terminate the marriage by handing his wife a get. (In medieval times, it was established that a wife has to accept the get.)

Continue reading The Times of Israel blog. This article is reprinted with permission from The Times of Israel.

Netty Gross-Horowitz is a journalist who worked for many years at The Jerusalem Report. She is the co-author, with Susan Weiss of "Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel’s Civil War," published in the HBI series on Jewish Women and Gender, Culture, Religion and Law with UPNE.

HBI is proud to host Susan Weiss for lecture at 7 p.m. Dec . 12. To learn more, please visit our website.

As part of a collaboration between the HBI’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, supported by the Bridging Voices Program of the British Council, we present a series of invited reflections on the intersection of Gender, Religion and Equality in Public Life from activists and scholars around the world. Contributors have been asked to reflect upon the ways in which conflicts over gender, religion and participation impact their work and inform their understanding of events in the news. They are particularly asked to consider how religious norms around gender shape civil policy making, adjudication and women’s capacity to fully participate in public political and ritual life.