In a revolutionary ruling, a religious court in Tzfat (Safed) has given full permission to a Jewish woman who was conceived via a donation from a sperm bank to marry without limitations, according to a report in Kipa.
An unmarried woman from the Galil turned to the Tzfat religious court to clarify the marriageable status of her daughter and to get permission from the religious court for the daughter to get married. The daughter was conceived via a sperm donation from the Rambam Hospital sperm bank.
According to Jewish law, a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish, but when the identity of the father is unknown, that throws new variables into whom that person may or may not marry.
Israeli law relies on halacha (Jewish law) in determining who is permitted to marry whom.
For instance, a child who is known to have been conceived from an adulterous relationship is considered a “mamzer” and has severe limitations on whom he or she is permitted to marry.
In this case, the identity of the father is known only to the hospital, and not to the mother or daughter. The only information they know about the donor is that he declared he was Jewish.
Furthermore, one of the Rabbis on the court, Rabbi Yoezer Ariel, had previously ruled that it is forbidden to utilize sperm banks.
The rabbi was concerned of potential problems that could arise, such as a child whose father was a “mamzer”, or incest. In this new ruling, he said his restriction was for before-the-fact (lechatchila), but if the woman already conceived through the bank, there’s room to permit.
It appears the primary problem is “shetuki”, when the identity of the father is unknown, which could lead to a close relative getting married. Presumably due to DNA testing, and the fact that the hospital knows the identity of the father, the court decided that wouldn’t be an issue.
Ultimately, the court ruled the daughter would be allowed to marry any Jew, and she may even marry a Cohen, who has his own additional restrictions whom he may marry — and that may be the most revolutionary part of the ruling.
The ruling was based on a precendent ruling by Rav Ovadia Yosef.
The rabbis on the court were chief court Rabbi Haim Bazak, Rav Shilom Shusham and Rav Yoezer Ariel.