Much of the scholarship on Jewish divorce assumes that civil marital laws are beneficial to Jews. This article complicates that assumption by focusing on a rarely acknowledged aspect of Jewish immigration in France. As France moved towards a stricter understanding of the separation of church and state, civil courts rejected the possibility of applying religious divorce laws to foreigners. Combined with the French practice of applying foreign law in cases involving immigrants, this shift resulted in Russian Jews being denied the right to civil divorce from 1905 to the 1920s. The confessional nature of Russian divorce thus continued to shape the lives of Russian Jews even after their immigration to France. The case of Russian Jewish divorce casts light on the shifting and contradictory understandings of the separation of church and state in France during the early years of the twentieth century.


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pp. 11-36
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