I am absolutely shocked.... after using "Google Translate" on documents in Hebrew I received by e-mail from the Rabbinical Court in Israel, I have discovered that my Israeli husband sued me for divorce there and even asked the rabbinate to divide up marital property. I am originally American, but relocated to Israel, where we married, and where my husband still lives after we separated during a visit to my family in the States. I don't read Hebrew. Is this legal?

Answers

No! If the centre of your life is abroad, the Israeli district rabbinical court will retain extra-territorial jurisdiciton over your actual marriage and divorce, even though you are overseas, but , following a legal amendment from 2005, it cannot "tie" in anxcilliary issues like property, to the divorce plea, which it could do, if you were both living in Israel. The family court will have jurisdiction over these issues.

Furthermore, your husband must act in good faith when he files for divorce, and if you live overseas, he must not conceal this, but must ask for permission to serve you with court papers, outside Israel, and is obliged to provide a notarized translation into English of the material filed.

From what you say, the rabbinical court in Israel would lack jurisdiction to deal with property issues, even if your husband did file for divorce properly and in good faith. It would appear that you have not been served properly either. Valid service is an essential starting point for the legal process.