The rabbinical judges had no idea how to deal with the woman standing in front of them. Dressed from head to toe in a cloak, and a veil which covered her entire face — including her eyes — she looked like a resident of Kabul.
But this was an Orthodox Jewish woman from Jerusalem in 2005.
Asked several times to remove the veil, she refused, saying only, through her lawyer: “I only reveal my face to my husband, for reasons of modesty.”
The rabbis granted her husband’s request for a divorce, against her will, and handed him custody of their 10 children. They concluded that the woman, who had to be guided from court by her hand, suffered from a “serious mental disturbance”.
If so, it is one afflicting an increasing number of women. In the past few months, reports have emerged of more than 100 Orthodox Israelis who have taken to wearing a Muslim-style burka, in the belief this will bring about redemption. They can be seen in Orthodox areas of Tiberias, Safed and even Jerusalem, and are mostly followers of Rabbanit Bruria Keren, a mother of 10 from Ramat Beit Shemesh.