Friday, February 12, 1999

Rabbis: Couple must divorce

Rabbis: Couple must divorce
Naomi Segal
JTA - February 12, 1999

JERUSALEM, Feb. 25 (JTA) -- A group of Israeli rabbis has ruled that a fervently Orthodox man must divorce his wife, a victim of rape, even though the couple wants to stay together, according to an Israeli newspaper report.

The couple has nine children.

The Yediot Achronot report said the woman, who lives in the town of Bnei Brak, was raped three weeks ago by three men as she was leaving a mikvah, or ritual bath.

She did not report the event to the police, but did tell her husband, who sought the advice of rabbis on what to do.

The husband is a Kohen, making him a descendant of the priests of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Under halachah, or Jewish law, a Kohen must divorce his wife if she has been raped.

Some halachic authorities say the husband could have gotten around the law by saying that he did not believe his wife, but by seeking the advice of the rabbis he implicitly admitted that he believed her.

``The halachah as reported is correct," said Rabbi J. David Bleich, professor of Jewish law and ethics at Cardozo Law School in New York.

But since a woman is unable to prove her own rape, the rabbis could have advised the husband that he ``is under no obligation to believe her.''


Marrying a Kohen: Jewish Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault

Marrying a Kohen
Jewish Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault 
(alt.: Kohain, Kohan, Cohen, Kohen)
(pl. "Kohanim" or "Cohanim")

The Awareness Center has a call out for articles on Halachic information on Survivors of Sexual Violence (childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, rabbinical sexual misconduct) marrying Kohains. This is an extremely sensitive issue, and one that keeps coming up.  If you know of an article or would like to submit one that you have written please use the following link to submit an article.

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents:  

  1. Definition of a Kohen (see below)
  2. Can I Marry A Kohan? (2004)
  3. Question: How does being sexually molested affect a girl's later ability to marry a Cohen?
  4. Rabbis: Couple must divorce  (02/12/1999)

Also see: 

Definition of a Kohen
A Jewish male is considered a Kohen if he is a descendent of the first priest Aaron, the High Priest, the brother of Moses (Moshe), from the Levi tribe.

His task is to work in the Temple, be involved with the offering of sacrifices, and with Blessing the Congregation of Israel.  Kohen's recite the Priestly Blessing, and are first to be called up (given an aliyah) to read from the Torah.

To maintain a high degree of purity, Kohanim observed certain prohibitions concerning marriage and contact with the deceased.  Kohanim are also prohibited from marrying a divorced woman, convert, incest and rape survivors.  They are also prohibited from visiting a cemetery (except for immediate family members) or coming into contact with the dead.