By Ryan Hinshaw
We returned to the holy city wiser, more connected, and perhaps a little tanner as well. Though a week a Tel Aviv certainly roused our spirits, we could not escape Jerusalem’s siren song. Alas, our sojourn was to last but a few short hours. The purpose of our pilgrimage: to understand the workings of the Jerusalem rabbinical court and the cases it takes on. As we did at the Shari’a court in Yaffo and the Druze court in Akko, we met with some people who are involved in the business of the Court. While we did not talk with one of the dayanim (judges), we heard from a lawyer, secretary to the Court, and a rabbinical court advocate. We learned that the majority of the cases in the rabbinical courts involve divorce. Since halacha (Jewish law) states that only the husband can give the writ of divorce (get), there has been much work done by the courts to help women who are agunot i.e. “chained” in their marriage. On this topic, we met with Rachel Levmore, who created a prenuptial agreement to help prevent this issue in Jewish marriages in Israel.
After spending a couple of free hours in Jerusalem, we returned to Tel Aviv to take a tour of graffiti in the secular neighborhood of Florentine. Our visit to Umm al-Fahm and Nazareth in the coming days promise to be most enlightening experiences.