Bride at a wedding.
Israel news photo: Flash 90
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote Monday on a bill that would cancel region-based registration for marriage, and enable the Tzohar marriage project to continue to offer its services to the public. The Tzohar rabbis hail from the Zionist stream, and enable couples to wed without having to turn to the state's religious apparatus, which is run by hareidi streams.
The bill was proposed by MK Faina Kirshenbaum of Israel is Our Home (Yisrael Beitenu). It will have the effect of saving the Tzohar rabbis' project, which recently came under threat when Minister for Religious Services Yaakov Mergi (Shas) took steps to force the Tzohar rabbis to operate through the regional state mechanism.
Mergi has given his consent to the bill, after his initiative limiting Tzohar was met by a wave of protest.
Under the current system, a couple that wishes to wed can only register at the rabbinate bureau in the region specified on the ID card of the bride or groom as his or her birthplace. The bill's explanatory notes say that this made sense when rabbis knew the residents of their region personally. However, cities have grown and this is no longer true, they explain. The bill will make it possible for couples to register wherever they want to, at no extra cost.
MK Kirshenbaum said that the change will also solve the problems that converts to Judaism often face in marriage. The hareidi establishment has a reputation for being tougher in the requirements it presents to candidates for marriage, while the religious Zionist rabbis are considered more open minded.