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Colonial Cases

Re T., 1932


Re T.

Rabinnical Court of Appeals, Palestine
Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 15 August 1932




   Although the Yemenite Jews have lived in Palestine among their Western brethren for many years, they still adhere to Eastern customs, some of them being polygamy.

Their prominent leader, Mr. T., who lived with his wife for about thirty years, has a married daughter, and is a man of about fifty, finds it quite natural to add another wife to the household.

   As there was no Yemenite girl in Palestine to be found willing to become his second wife, he married by proxy a young girl in Yemen, who arrived together with her family some months ago.

   Meanwhile Mr. T. had left his family and did not provide for them so as to compel his wife to receive Ghet or to acquiesce to his marriage of the other one without getting divorced.  The women denied to accept any of his proposals, and the case was brought before the Rabbinical Court at Tel Aviv. There the Rabbis did not find any legal cause to compel the wife to accept divorce against her will, but the Yemenite leader appealed to the Higher Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem.

   A few days ago the parties appeared before the Rabbinical Court of Appeals here.  By the request of the Central Committee of the Jewish Women's Equal Rights Association, Dr. B. Joseph undertook the defence of the woman.

   Some of the appellant's outstanding arguments worthwhile mentioning were:-

  1. The Yemenites being Eastern Jews are allowed to marry two women.
  2. His wife went to the Women's Association asking their help, which he had distinctly forbidden her, the Rabbis should therefore bud her to get divorced because of her disobedience.

One of the Rabbis asked him how he intended to provide for his wife in case she would accept the divorce: he proposed a lump sum of 20 till 25 pounds as compensation for the 28 years' hard work and trouble, adding that she was still able to work and earn her living.

   Dr. B. Joseph called the attention of the Rabbis to the immorality of a sentence compelling the wife to accept divorce because her husband wanted to marry a younger one.  He also pointed out that this would serve a bad example to other Yemenites because of Mr. T.'s influential standing in his community.

   The verdict of the Rabbinical Court of Appeals has not yet been issued, and the Jewish Women's Equal Rights Association in Palestine looks foreword to it with great interest.

   In connection with this case the Jewish Women's Equal Rights Association is expressing its opinion upon the remedy that could improve matrimonial conditions of the Palestinian population as a whole.  The remedy being laws pertaining matrimony enacted by the Government, such as the limitation of the age of marriage to 16 years, which would eliminate child marriage and its disastrous issues, and bigamy punished as a crime.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School