Photo Credit: Wikiepedia / Dadarot / CC0
A Halitza Shoe. Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Rare video footage from the Beit Din of Rav Yehuda Gerami in Tehran shows a Halitza ceremony being held with his students for a young woman in his community. Rabbi Gerami is the chief rabbi of Iran’s Jewish community.

Halitza is a ceremony which takes place if a woman’s husband dies and she is childless. The brother of the husband is obligated in Jewish law to either marry the widow and raise a family in his brother’s name, which is called Yibum (levirate marriage), or alternatively, perform the Halitza ceremony and declare he is unwilling to do so.

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In which case the widow declares, “My brother-in-law refuses to raise unto his brother a name in Israel; he will not marry me.” and the brother-in-law states, “I do not wish to take her.”

The widow then loosens and removes the brother-in-law’s shoe, throws it, and spits on the floor.

She then says three times, “So shall it be done unto that man who will not build up his brother’s house, and his name shall be called in Israel, ‘the house of him that hath his shoe loosed.'”

The court then declares, “May it be the will [of God] that Jewish women be no more subjected to halitzah or to yibbum.”

At which point, the deceased man’s brothers are no longer obligated to marry the widow, and the widow is free to marry whomever else she wants.

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