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If you want a divorce, the rabbinic court is the only institution that can grant it.
Furthermore, in Orthodox Jewish law and thus Israeli law, a marriage cannot be dissolved from without, as a civil marriage can be.
Weiss told me a story that exemplifies the stultifying literalness of the rabbinic courts.
“One of the clear grounds for divorce under the Talmud is bad breath,” she told me, smiling and shrugging her shoulders.
The Center for Women’s Justice, which she founded in 2004 to pursue cases of , is housed on the third floor of a nondescript building on Emek Refaim, at the end of a long corridor with many identical rust-colored doors, each organization identified by a quiet plaque.
The failure to separate church and state in Israel in this one crucial arena has resulted in the imposition on all Israeli citizens—religious or not—of Orthodox Jewish law.
Many of the women who get caught up in the rabbinic court processes are not themselves religious.
Friends offered her office space and began referring clients.
In 1997, Weiss founded , a legal-aid center offering legal representation to women seeking divorce, in conjunction with the Ohr Torah Stone Institutions of Israel.