People stand near collected debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 11, 2019. MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A special rabbinical court has been set up in Israel to determine the marital status of the wives of two Israeli men who died in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

The court ordered by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef must prove conclusively that the men got on the plane and died in the crash on March 10 near Addis Ababa, The Jerusalem Post reported. Without such proof, the women will remain agunot, or chained wives, who are prevented from remarrying.

The Israelis killed in the crash were identified as Avraham Matsliah, 49, from Maale Adumim, and Shimon Reem, 55, of Zichron Yaakov.

Because neither of the men’s remains have yet to be found, their families have not yet been able to sit shiva, the Jewish ritual mourning period.

Volunteers from Israel’s Zaka search-and-rescue organization and an Israeli forensics team have had limited access to the crash site and have been unable to complete the research necessary for the rabbinical court.

Airline officials last week began delivering 2-pound bags of scorched earth from the crash site to the bereaved families to bury in place of their loved ones’ bodies. Death certificates were expected to be issued by the end of the month.


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