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Authors

Akiva Miller

Abstract

The State of Israel applies religious law in all matters of marriage and divorce. For the Jewish population of Israel, the law of marriage includes religious prohibitions on certain kinds of marriages, most notably the prohibition against intermarriage and the prohibition against marrying a mamzer. Over the years, Israel‘s state-religious authorities have adopted a variety of methods and practices for policing these prohibitions. These include stringent procedures for premarital registration inquiries; use of databases for collecting information on prohibited persons; recording the possibility of mamzer status of newborn children; special Beit Din proceedings for handling cases of possible marriage prohibitions; Beit Din-initiated investigations of possible prohibited persons, including minors; and special ―Jewishness investigations‖ for people of questionable Jewish ancestry. This article surveys the law and practice of these policing methods, as well as the acute social problems and injustices they cause. Lastly, this article discusses ways in which these methods change traditional Jewish marriage norms of information dissemination.