For many centuries, in Christian lands (Italy in particular), divorce was outlawed. But Judaism allows divorce. Does anyone know what the Jews did in these countries, if they wanted to divorce? If you got only a religious divorce and married again, you could be accused of bigamy. I searched for the historical record, but could not find it.

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    Was divorce for non-Christians outlawed in Italy?
    – Double AA
    May 15, 2018 at 14:04
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    I don't think this is on-topic for the site. It has nothing to do with Jewish Law.
    – ezra
    May 15, 2018 at 15:09
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    This is 100% on-topic for this site. It's about how a rite of Judaism was practiced.
    – msh210
    May 15, 2018 at 21:13
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    @Kazibácsi I would say that if secular marriage and divorce were not allowed, then the Jewish law would have applied. They would not have had Jews being married in the church (by church rules) as Jews were not part of the sacred rites of that religion. Thus, the state would not have done anything about it. Just as the Christians would have had the marriage records in the church, the Jews would have had the marriage (and divorce) records in the shul. I found references to the fact that the popes did not interfere with Jewish marriages even in the Papa States. However, only by implication. May 15, 2018 at 23:59
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    @sabbahillel Yepp, I was saying quite the same. I suppose a very similar system was in practice that we can find in Israel now. Each member of a religion goes to her/his own church and their own rules apply. In my native country there was a "district rabbi" (actually a quite well paid office), who had to keep the official registers for Jews. May 16, 2018 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


You will find the historical information you seek at this link: Italy, Early Modern - Jewish Women's Archives: https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/italy-early-modern. It is an encyclopedia article by Howard Tzvi Adelman. Simply put, Jews could indeed divorce in Catholic-dominated Italy, and Adelman discusses the conditions established by the autonomous rabbis.

In other Christian lands the situation was similar. For that information, consult in the same source 'Halachic Decisions on Family Matters in Medieval Jewish Society' by Avraham Grossman:https://jwa.org/.../halakhic-decisions-on-family-matters-in-m... He gives ten of the most important takkanot on family matters. Two are from Babylon from the period of the Geonim, four are from Germany, two from France and two from Spain.

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