web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


INTERVIEW

Rabbi Ben Dahan, Jewish Home: I’ve Worked Hard on Behalf of Women

"When positions opened, if there was a qualified woman for the job I was inclined to hire her."
Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan

Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan
Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, the former director general of rabbinic courts in Israel – a position he held for more than two decades – is running for Knesset in next week’s Israeli election. He is number four on the Bayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) party, which according to polls should win between 12 and 15 seats. The Jewish Press interviewed him in Jerusalem.

The Jewish Press: Tell us a little about your life – family background, education, etc.

Rabbi Ben Dahan: I was born in Morocco in 1954 and immigrated to Israel with my parents when I was two years old. I grew up in Beer Sheva. I am the oldest of five boys, and since my mother worked outside the home, each of us sons had to help with the housework. This was much appreciated by my wife, Tova Taybowitz, a daughter of Holocaust survivors whom I met in the Bnei Akiva youth movement.

I received my BA in business administration from Touro College and my Masters in public affairs from Hebrew University. My semicha was conferred on me by Rabbi Shalom Mashash, zt”l, chief rabbi of Jerusalem and from Rabbis Avraham Shapira, zt”l, and Mordechai Eliyahu, zt”l, chief rabbis of Israel.

I served in the Israel Defense Forces in the artillery corps, rising to the rank of major.

My wife and I were among the founders of the yishuv Chispin in the Golan Heights. At that time we were only eleven families living on the Syrian border. Today Chispin is a thriving village.

We have nine children, six girls and three boys.

How did you launch your career as a public sector rabbi?

When Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was appointed chief rabbi of Israel in 1983, he asked me to manage his office. I moved to Beit El in the Shomron with my family and worked for the chief rabbi. In 1989 I was appointed director general of the rabbinic courts, the batei din, a position directly under the chief rabbi himself. This put me in charge of all batei din in the country. I held this position for twenty-one years.

When I started out in that position, the rabbinic courts were a small part of the Religious Ministry. I turned it into an independent office and eventually succeeded in having it become its own unit in the Ministry of Justice. This gave me the opportunity to make many changes and implement many improvements in how the rabbinic courts were run.

For example?

On the simplest level, when I started there were very few women working in the rabbinic courts. When positions opened, if there was a qualified woman for the job I was inclined to hire her. When I left, more than forty percent of people working in the religious courts all over the country were women.

You’re known as someone who has focused on the problem of agunot.

I want to clarify the terms regarding women who are agunot and women who are refused a get.

In America and elsewhere outside Israel, the term agunah is used to refer to any woman who cannot get a get from her husband, and thus remains chained to a dead marriage.

In Israel, agunah refers to a woman whose husband is missing. He may be dead or he may have just run away and disappeared and no one knows where he is. We use the term mesoravot get for the women whose husbands refuse to give their wives a get even though they are no longer living together.

This difference in terminology has resulted in a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresenting of facts, especially when statements attributed to me are translated.

Concerning my work with agunot, when I entered office there were approximately five hundred women in Israel whose husbands were missing. I felt we needed to hire private investigators whose sole expertise was in finding missing people. Nothing like this had ever been done before, and it was a hard job for me to get the necessary funds allocated for this. But I made the argument that as a Jewish country we had to do whatever it takes to free these women.

We succeeded in finding many of these men and getting gittin for their wives. In my twenty-one years as head of the rabbinic courts, more than one thousand women in this category were freed through our finding their runaway husbands and delivering the get to them.

About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “Rabbi Ben Dahan, Jewish Home: I’ve Worked Hard on Behalf of Women”

  1. Hadar Israel says:

    Leave Rav Ben Dahan alone!
    He has done A LOT for agunot and molested women!
    It's disgusting that he is attacked exactly by the party whose current boss did not even respect his own wife and publicly confessed on tv of cheating on her for years! Remember the shameful behavior by Netanyahu in 1991, at the time of the famous "hot cassette" story where David Levy made him look like the jerk he is claiming he had a cassette that did not exist, without saying with what in it, and Netanyahu, "LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!", immediately felt guilty, lost it and confessed to the whole Israeli public that he had cheated on his wife. He thought that Levy has a cassette with his "hotel" exploits… ;-)

  2. Chaiya Eitan says:

    So glad I read this! The problem of these women not being given a get is a tragedy. What this man has done for these women is wonderful.

  3. D Weber Jones says:

    I am pleased to hear of someone so respected, fighting for women's rights in Israel.. after all, isn't Israel supposed to be the example for all the people, the world… Show everyone–this is the acceptable form of behavior…

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
PM Netanyahu
Netanyahu Attacks the Iran Nuclear Deal as “Unconscionable” [video]
Latest Indepth Stories

Indeed, some caucus members based their decision to stay away from Mr. Netanyahu’s speech on their contention that the Israeli leader had disrespected America’s first black president.

These are fundamental issues for Israel’s security and yet Mr. Abbas refuses even to acknowledge them as grist for negotiations.

Those seeking accounting, finance, business, healthcare, technology, etc., will often enter a specialized graduate degree “track” created by Lakewood’s Professional Career Services, in conjunction with local institutions of higher education, for our alumni.

We are grateful to Hashem that we have been privileged to institute this program and that over the years we have experienced tremendous siyata d’shmaya, with the program spreading throughout the world and its membership rapidly rising.

Indifference to the pain of the many singles should require us to have our heart, not head, examined

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

More Articles from Naomi Klass Mauer
Kalman Samuels

Shalva founders, the Samuels understood that special-needs children and their families needed more

Naomi-010215-Memories

Dr. Faier passed away in 2009, leaving two manuscripts. The first, A Day is a Thousand Years: Human Destiny and the Jewish People, was published posthumously in 2012.

You children will build the country and you will help restore Israel to her former glory.

Presented by the Destiny Foundation and the Young Israel of Flatbush.

“What we are seeing here in New York today is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality, but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Home is Milwaukee where their congregation, Beth Jehudah, and community always await their return.

After they saw what happened in Gush Katif in 2005, they understood Judea and Samaria could well be next.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/my-record-shows-how-hard-ive-worked-on-behalf-of-women-an-interview-with-knesset-candidate-rabbi-eli-ben-dahan/2013/01/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: