Quite possibly, depending on the circumstances,according to a controversial precedent set by Jerusalem Greater Rabbinical Court a few years ago. It rejected an appeal by the husband, a French citizen, visiting Israel to cancel an order made by Jerusalem District Rabbinical Court which prevented him from leaving the country at the end of a visit at Passover. His wife, a Moroccan citizen, had filed pleas for divorce and maintenance there . The couple had married in both Jewish religious and civil wedding ceremonies in Monaco, where they were resident, and where they had been living separately for seven years and had divorced according to civil law. The Jerusalem District rabbinical court had held that it had jurisdiction over the wife’s maintenance, and could , therefore, prevent the husband from leaving the country, although it admitted that the question of its jurisdiction over the divorce was problematic.
Fearing becoming an “aguna” and unable to marry, the wife started proceedings in Israel in 2003 after her divorce plea at the rabbinical court in Paris produced no progress. At a hearing before both parties at the district rabbinical court in connection with the exit order, the husband argued that it had no jurisdiction to grant it as neither of them were citizens or residents of Israel, or had any connection with the country. He argued that the wife filed the pleas in bad faith, and that Monaco was a more appropriate forum for proceedings. Subsequently, however, after the parties had agreed to submit written summaries , the wife produced evidence from the Jewish Agency in Paris that she had applied to emigrate to Israel eleven days after the hearing, and had applied for a visa as a temporary resident.
Reaffirming Israeli rabbinical court jurisdiction over the wife’s maintenance, and the legality of the exit order, the appeal court stated : “ …. it transpires that the husband arrives in Israel from time to time. The husband attests to being a religious person. He lays tefillin. He prays three times a day… that is a deep connection to Israel ! …. Every Jew has a connection to Israel. A Jew who declares himself to be a religious Jew, and that is enough. The husband himself said that he visited the house of …… in Jerusalem to discuss the conflict he had with his wife with him. Although the matter was done within the framework of a private meeting, it is clear that this fact strengthens the connection with Israel.”
Furthermore, it rejected the “inappropriate forum” argument, partly, it said, because the only forum where the wife could get maintenance under Jewish law was Israel: “But if we were persuaded that the husband was willing to be judged in a plea against him at the rabbinical court with jurisdiction in France, we would seriously consider accepting his appeal.”