A legal achievement for the Rackman Center! The High Court of Justice overturned a ruling of the Grand Rabbinical Court that ignored the “best interests of the child” principle and ordered a secular girl to be enrolled in a religious school.
We are empowered to share our most recent legal achievement. The High Court of Justice overturned a ruling of the Grand Rabbinical Court that ignored the “best interests of the child” principle and ordered a secular girl to be enrolled in a religious school.
The Grand Rabbinical Court confirmed the judgment of the Regional Religious Court which concluded that the daughter of divorced parents will start first grade in a religious school, even though the majority of her time is spent with her secular mother and living a secular life. This ruling contradicted the agreement between the parents that left the decision of the child’s education to the mother. Further, it disregarded any opinion regarding the child’s best interests.
The mother petitioned the High Court of Justice through lawyers Shay Zilberberg and Shir Wollman from the Rackman Center. The Court immediately ordered the welfare authorities to speed up the preparation of a professional opinion on the girl’s best interests. The review preferred rejecting the Rabbinical Court’s position and, in its place, recommended an educational framework that would reflect the girl’s dominant lifestyle.
In the ruling, the judges explained that the guiding principle in such a case must be the best interests of the child. They also concluded that the Grand Rabbinical Court applied a concept of a “taking the middle” between the parents rather than giving priority to the best interests of the child. The High Court of Justice ruled that under these circumstances there was no justification to change the agreement made by the parties, and, therefore, it was determined that the petition should be accepted and the mother would be allowed to enroll the girl in the school of her choice.
Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Founding Academic Head of the Rackman Center: “Once again, we are witness to a case where the courts systematically favor religious education and ignore the principle of the child’s best interests. The overwhelming preference for religious education without examining the specific needs of the children teaches us that the religious consideration prevails over the consideration of the best interest of the child, as enshrined in the law. This is what a state of Halacha looks like. We call on the Rabbinical Court to ensure that in any conflict concerning the education of children, the Court will request professional opinions from the relevant authorities and will genuinely and honestly respect their recommendations.”