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Chief Rabbinate Refuses To Seat Orthodox Women For Jewish Law Exam

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A group of four Orthodox Jewish women has threatened to take the Chief Rabbinate to Israel’s highest court after their request to take an official rabbinate exam in family purity laws was rejected with no explanation.

The exam was held Thursday; the women were not allowed to sit for it.

A rabbinate clerk, speaking to a representative of the ITIM organization, said in response to the women’s request that “These are the rabbinate instructions” and “There is no option for women to take the test.” The representative of ITIM, a nonprofit that guides Israelis through the country’s religious bureaucracy, recorded the conversation, which is legal.

The women have been studying and teaching Jewish law for many years. Passing the exams, which are taken by thousands of men during the process of rabbinical ordination and are also in some professions the equivalent of an academic degree, could enable them to increase their pay grade in certain positions or apply for civil servant positions.

ITIM’s director, Rabbi Seth Farber, called the policy of not allowing the women to sit for the exam “illegal.”

In a letter to the director of the examination department at the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbi Yehuda Glickman, the women and ITIM called for an explanation of the rejection and noted they have been teaching on the subject for years in high-level seminaries for women.

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