Court: Non-Jew can inherit her spouse
Children of Jewish man who married a Christian woman appeal against her right to inherit half of father's property. Supreme Court rejects request, explaining inheritance law intends to fulfill wish of deceased. Justice Rubenstein: Jewish law does not recognize mixed marriages, but Israeli law cannot ignore this marriage
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a legally married mixed couple, in which one partner is Jewish and another one is not, may enjoy the same benefits given to an all Jewish couple in reference to the Israeli inheritance law.
The meaning of the decision is that a husband or a wife who are not Jewish will be eligible to receive half of the property of the spouse after his or her death. The ruling reflects the recommendation of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
The case which went before the court was an appeal filed by the children of a Jewish man, an Israeli citizen, who married a Christian woman in Romania challenging their step-mother's eligibility to inherit their father.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the children and set a precedent. The decision of the court relies on the position of the attorney general who says that in reference to the specific clause, the couple will be recognized, but "it is possible that in other cases of Israeli law, there is a possibility that the marriage will not be recognized."
The court decision sided with the position where the rationale of the inheritance law is to follow the wishes of the deceased, therefore it is possible to interpret that when the couples get married, they indicate their wish to provide for one another.
'Knesset should speak its mind'
The panel of judges, headed by Justice Aharon Barak was not asked to rule if the marriage between the two was valid, but in the ruling Barak said that "if the court would have been tasked with the question, they would have leaned towards ruling the marriage was indeed valid," but said that "the place to rule on that issue is in the Knesset and it is appropriate that the Knesset will speak its mind on the issue."
Justices Asher Gronis and Elyakim Rubenstein joined the decision of Barak, but Rubenstein asked to remark that the Jewish laws do not recognize the marriage of a Jew with a non-Jew, but the Israeli law does not ignore these kinds of marriages, which are a part of a dismal reality of the Jewish People in parts of the Diaspora and in Israel as well.
Rubenstein added that "I will not hesitate to say that if it was possible to persuade every Jewish man and woman to marry a fellow Jew, it will make me very happy, especially after a third of the Jewish people were wiped out during the Holocaust.
"But because this is not the reality, the state must provide the proper solutions all the while considering its democratic and Jewish nature, and the slippery slope that it might entangled into. This is a job for the legislator."