I am a Jewish divorcee. I have been dating a Cohen whom I would love to spend the rest of my life with. My family say that even if he popped the question, the Rabbinate wouldn’t let us get married. Is that true ?By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 02 May, 2022
Yes ! Jewish law is very strict on this. A Cohen is forbidden from marrying a Jewish woman who has divorced her husband. One way of by-passing this is for the two to marry in a civil ceremony abroad and having the marriage registered at the Ministry of the Interior here. However, from a strictly legal point of view such a marriage would not be legally valid here, according to the Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage & Divorce) Law of 1953. This states that two Jews who are residents or citizens of Israel can only marry according to Jewish law, and puts matters of marriage and divorce into the exclusive hands of the rabbinical courts.
A civil marriage would have administrative validity – the marriage could be registered at the Ministry of Interior and each party would be recorded as “married” in their Israeli identity card. The Supreme Court of Justice in Jerusalem has held that this registration is no proof of the legal validity of the marriage. In practical terms the fact that the marriage is recorded in the identity card is sufficient for various things the parties may wish to arrange e.g. a mortgage should they wish to purchase an apartment .
Another option is to live together and make an agreement setting out rights and obligations towards each other without getting married.