From the Legal Trenches

1. Freedom of Marriage: In the last newsletter we reported on Hiddush’s legal breakthrough, which brought Israel closer than ever before to realizing freedom of marriage.

Gender Equality In SchoolGender Equality In School


The breakthrough was achieved via the Supreme Court's decision to accept Hiddush’s position and reject the State's appeal. The State had refused to accept the ruling of the administrative courts in Jerusalem and Lod according to which the Population Authority was instructed to register as married those married online in Utah. For more details click here. Hiddush is now writing a comprehensive but easy to use guide in Hebrew with the assistance of the marriage authorities from Utah county, which will help make this advantageous option of civil marriage accessible. This alternative procedure is unique in its simplicity, low cost, and speed. It enables couples to get married in Utah without leaving the comfort of their homes Israel, in the presence of their family and friends.

2. Gender Equality in Religious Services: For years Hiddush has been working to advance gender equality in the field of religious life in Israel, and among other things that we have focused on is the dismal representation of women in the approximately 130 religious councils in Israel, especially when it comes to senior appointments. As a result of Hiddush’s advocacy, the Deputy Attorney General instructed the Minister of Religious Services already some years ago that the Religious Councils were required to adhere to adequate representation of women as members of the Religious Councils, especially since the minister selects "Appointees" who act in place of the religious councils in many local authorities (which due to the politicization of the religious services, were unable to reach an agreement on the composition of the councils).

In recent times, the current Minister of Religious Services, Michael Malchiali of Shas, has repeatedly boasted in the ultra-Orthodox media of his vigorous appointments to councils throughout the country. According to several publications - these appointments have been made in disregard of the Attorney General’s instructions. It is not clear whether adequate representation is being enforced in the renewed formations of the Religious Councils, since most of the appointments have not yet been published in the official gazette.

Recently, we contacted the Minister of Religious Services once again, in the name of Hiddush and in the name of The Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for promoting the status of women at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Law, the Israel Women's Network, NA’AMAT and Itach-Maaki - Women Lawyers for Social Justice, demanding to receive information about the many appointments that the minister had made, and to publish them forthright. We made it clear that to the extent that gender equality is not met, we will petition the Supreme Court again, as we did in the past. Previously, we had succeeded in advancing a more equitable policy in this area, which was unfortunately ceased when the new government was elected and the responsibility for the Ministry was transferred to Shas.

3. Gender Equality in Schools: For some time now, reports have been received from various areas throughout Israel concerning restrictions and prohibitions imposed on female students in secular state schools with regard to their

"For some time now, reports have been received from various areas throughout Israel concerning restrictions and prohibitions imposed on female students in secular state schools with regard to their clothing."

clothing. This is particularly evident in the various prohibitions on female students who wear shorts, preventing them from entering the school premises or sending them to change clothes. This goes against the instructions of the Ministry of Education according to which schools must follow an equal policy for male and female students, and in this case - the discrimination and harm to the dignity of female students is evident since there are no similar restrictions imposed on male students. The damage and inconvenience are especially great during the hot summer days, when the heat makes it difficult to wear long pants. Hiddush initiated an appeal to the Minister of Education demanding the abolition of these gender restrictions, and the introduction of an equal dress code policy for boys and girls, which expresses consideration for the dignity and well-being of the students. This appeal was sent in our name and in the name of the Israel Women's Network , Na’amat and Itach-Maaki - Women Lawyers for Social Justice.

4. Religious Coercion in the IDF Purportedly in the Name of Solidarity and Halacha (religious law): In the past we wrote about Hiddush’s petition on behalf of a group of parents to soldiers, demanding that soldiers who do not observe kashrut or are not even Jewish, be allowed to possess and consume food that is not kosher for Pesach in their private quarters, while not infringing on the observance of kashrut for Pesach in all public areas in which food is prepared and served on IDF military bases. The petition will be heard in the Supreme Court this month, on 5/29/23, and Hiddush will present its position that the freedom of religion to which IDF soldiers are also entitled requires consideration of their wishes and needs in this area as well, and that the continued coercion on all the military bases and on all soldiers does not express, as the state claims, the value of comradery and solidarity, but the contrary is true. read more Soldiers who are not Jewish or Jewish but not religiously observant are consistently ignored when someone waves the flag of religion and consideration is given mostly to its adherents. Hiddush will lay out the legal framework regarding freedom of religion in general and individual liberties in the army in particular, as well as the legal lessons that may be learned from past rulings, for example on the issue of chametz in hospitals.

Hiddush will also emphasize that the presentation of IDF policy as if it follows the Halacha without any possibility of deviation has no actual Halachic basis, and that the Military Rabbinate misrepresented the position of Halacha, as can be seen even from the halachic references presented by the Rabbinate itself, and not least from the way in which the Orthodox rabbis in the American army allow religiously observant soldiers to serve in an environment where there is chametz as long as they themselves do not own or consume it.


Take Action!