Israeli rabbinate grants rare permission for divorced woman to marry kohen

An illustrative photo of a Jewish wedding. Photo: Justin Oberman/Creative Commons

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — In an unusual ruling, the Tel Aviv rabbinical court allowed a divorced woman to marry a kohen, a descendant of the Jewish priestly class.

The special permission granted earlier this year by Rabbi Zvadya Cohen, the head of the Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv, which is run by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, is rare because in rabbinic law, or halacha, kohens are forbidden to marry divorced women.

But research conducted by the B’Noam Danielle organization, which helps disadvantaged Israelis navigate the religious marriage bureaucracy, found a loophole: It revealed that two of the witnesses during the woman’s first wedding were related, rendering it void for the purposes of her remarriage to a kohen.

“Her status as a divorced woman has no halachic validity,” Rabbi Yisroel Meir Riani, the founder of B’Noam Danielle, wrote in a statement Thursday about the case.

B’Noam Danielle’s statement did not divulge the names of the bride and groom, citing privacy issues.