The Policing of Religious Marriage Prohibitions in Israel: Religion, State, and Information Technology
Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law, Fall 2014 Volume XXXI Number 1
35 Pages Posted: 6 May 2014 Last revised: 15 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 30, 2014
The State of Israel applies religious law in all matters of marriage and divorce. For the Jewish population of Israel, the law of marriage includes religious prohibitions on certain kinds of marriages, most notably the prohibition against intermarriage and the prohibition against marrying a mamzer. Over the years, Israel’s state-religious authorities have adopted a variety of methods and practices for policing these prohibitions. These include stringent procedures for premarital registration inquiries; use of databases for collecting information on prohibited persons; recording the possibility of mamzer status of newborn children; special Beit Din proceedings for handling cases of possible marriage prohibitions; Beit Din-initiated investigations of possible prohibited persons, including minors; and special “Jewishness investigations” for people of questionable Jewish ancestry. The article surveys the law and practice of these policing methods, as well as the acute social problems and injustices they cause. Lastly, the article discuses ways in which these methods change traditional Jewish marriage.
Keywords: Jewish law, Marriage, Marriage Law, Divorce, Divorce Law, Mamzer, Religion and State, Privacy, Law and Religion
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