Friday, January 30, 2009

Jerusalem Installment #5: Divorce in Israel

Divorces have gone into the 5 digits for the first time in recorded Israeli history, with 10,225 Jewish couples divorcing in 2008 (Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post). What I find interesting is that the divorce statistics were not released from a demographic agency (in the U.S. it would be the Census Bureau) but rather from the Rabbinical Court Administration. Further, Wagner's article states, "The Rabbinical Courts are empowered by law to impose sanctions to coerce one of the sides, usually the husband, to give a get (the document of Jewish divorce). These sanctions include blocking exit from the country, freezing bank accounts, halting welfare payments, and suspending drivers licenses." There was no discusssion in the article re why the divorce rate increased.

On a different topic, I interviewed Mayor Shaul Goldstein of the Etzion Block of communities (just south of Jerusalem) re the role of communities in marriage and childbirth celebrations. As I waited for Mayor Goldstein in the lobby of the Shalom Hotel in Bayit Vegan, candidate Bibi Netanyahu appeared. When I quickly grabbed for my camera, let's say it didn't evoke many friendly faces amongst his security team.
Look for a future post on the Goldstein interview.