Thursday, December 06, 2007

Religion and Law in Israel

In 1948, agreements were made between the secular parties and the religious parties in the Knesset to preserve the character of Israel as a Jewish State.

Separate from the Civil Court system, an entire system of Religious Courts is in place, compelling residents to seek personal status relief in such Courts. There are different Courts for all religions and sects recognized by the State of Israel, and a citizen must petition the Religious Court to which he belongs. Thus, a divorce in Israel between members of two different religions is unobtainable. Ideologically non religious, atheists, agnostics and others whose religion is suspected may not get a divorce in the State of Israel, and they are compelled to surrender to the jurisdiction of a religious Court.

For the Jews, the Rabbinical Courts are the address for divorce. However, the Rabbinical Judges ("dayanim") are appointed from among the ultra orthodox Yeshivas. While support and equitable distribution of property are governed by civil law, and such reliefs are available in Civil Courts,

Marriages, too, must be performed according to a person's religion. There is no civil marriage in Israel. Thus, there are no inter-religious marriages in Israel. Those who are denied marriage licenses can only marry abroad. If at least one party to such civil overseas marriage is Jewish, Rabbinical law requires that a Jewish Get be obtained.

Other religious holds on the law in Israel are:

* No inter-faith adoptions.
* Converts into Judaism must follow ultra orthodox paradigms, and undergo long studies and tests, without assurance of acceptance.
* Severe restrictions on pig farms and shrimp ponds, and some local zoning against sale of pork and non-kosher food.
* A Certificate of Kashrut requires payments to a Kashrut inspector.
* No public transportation on Saturdays.
* Law of Return.
* The State maintains a Registry of mamzers or illegitimate children.
* Hotels in Israel are denied operating licenses if not accommodating certain aspects of Jewish Law. Thus, no unkosher food may be offered in Israeli hotels, and Sabbath elevators stopping automatically in every floor must be installed.
* Employment restrictions on Saturdays, including increased wages for employees clocking hours on the Sabbath

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