The divorce rate for Israeli Jewish couples has reached about 38 percent and projections are that the trends can reach 50 percent within a few years, reports the Jerusalem Post newspaper (Jan. 11).
In the year 2000 there were 9,153 couples divorced compared to 8,773 in 1999, an increase of about 4.5 percent, which is in keeping with the trend over the past few years. Rabbi Eliahu Ben-Dahan, the director-general of the rabbinical courts from where these figures are taken, adds that an increasing number of couples divorce by mutual consent.
Traditionally, the husband has been the sole authority in granting a “get” or writ of divorce among Orthodox Jewish couples. There has been considerable criticism and even protests among Orthodox Jewish women on the cases where their husbands refuse to give them a get, creating situations where women stay involuntarily in bad marriages or give up custody of their children to get a divorce.
Corruption in rabbinical courts is reported to be widespread and further aggravates the situation. The Jewish Week (Jan. 19) reports that “In a development likened to the creation of a Code of Ethics for an industry some call corrupt, last month a Brooklyn-based organization issued professional standards for rabbinical courts that handle divorce settlements.”
The standards, endorsed by the main Orthodox organizations, have been hailed as giving Orthodox women the right to fair procedures in the get process. However, others say that in the majority of divorce cases, the husband refuses to follow traditional avenues and becomes non-observant and therefore immune to community standards.