Hardline Israeli rabbis use tough checks on Jewish identity to block marriages

Source: The Guardian

An ultra-orthodox religious court is infringing human rights by demanding Israelis prove their Jewish status, critics say

A rabbi leads worshippers in Ashdod
 A rabbi leads worshippers in Ashdod on the shore of the Mediterranean Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Reut T, a 28-year-old Israeli secretary, regards herself as a traditional and observant Jew, attending synagogue each week. So having her Jewishness questioned when she wanted to marry was shocking and humiliating.

The news, delivered in a summons to a rabbinical court, came out of the blue. Not only could she not be married by the rabbinate, she was told, but her very status as Jewish was being questioned, in a case now being challenged before Israel’s supreme court.

Reut – who asked not to be identified to prevent further issues for her family – is not alone. According to figures seen by the Observer, she is one of a growing number of Israeli citizens who, despite being recognised as Jewish by the state, have had their Jewishness questioned by an official rabbinate that enjoys an almost exclusive monopoly on state marriage and other issues.

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