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Gender Equality

Problem

Israel’s State religious establishment discriminates against women in a variety of ways. Women are prevented from serving in government positions for which they are qualified, and are subject to unequal service provision and administrative requirements.

The Religious Services Ministry does not require standardized operating procedures or fees at mikvehs (ritual baths), and the local religious councils that operate them do so inconsistently with regard to women’s privacy and autonomy, fees, and disabled access.

ITIM Achievements

  • Won a landmark case that paved the way for women to serve as legal advisors in the State rabbinical court system for the first time in Israeli history
  • Brought a class-action suit before the Supreme Court to require the Chief Rabbinate to allow women access to State exams that certify proficiency in matters of halacha (Jewish law)
  • Brought the issue of gender inequality in the State marriage registration process before Knesset Members, and formulated a strategy for ending it
  • Assisted the Ministry of Religious Services in formulating guidelines to protect the privacy and dignity of women in mikvehs
  • Successfully advocated for the State to fund and to require local religious councils to make nearly 40 mikvehs accessible for the disabled
  • Won a Supreme Court case that required local religious councils to allow women to use mikvehs without attendants, according to individual custom
  • Won a class-action suit against 20 local religious councils who overcharged women 2.5 million shekels for mikveh use
  • Won a case in which a mikveh attendant violated the privacy of a mikveh user

Current Activities

The ITIM Legal Center recently filed a Supreme Court petition to require the Chief Rabbinate to allow women access to State exams that certify proficiency in matters of halacha (Jewish law), and continues to monitor local religious councils’ compliance with the requirement that they allow women to use mikvehs without attendants.  The ITIM Public Policy Center is working with various State agencies to enable women studying in religious seminaries to receive the same discounts on State preschool tuition as men studying in yeshivas.

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