Bill to bypass Chief Rabbinate for marriages

MK Aliza Lavie presents bill to end criminal penalties for marrying outside the Chief Rabbinate.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Aliza Lavie
Aliza Lavie
Hillel Meir/TPS

The Knesset's Ministerial Committee on Legislation will discuss a bill proposed by MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) which would abolish the law under which couples who marry outside the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate, as well as the officiating rabbi, would be subject to criminal charges.

Currently, Section 7 of the Marriage and Divorce Ordinance states that a person who does not register his marriage or divorce will be sentenced to imprisonment for two years. This provision may apply to any couple and to any rabbi who conducts a private marriage ceremony at his home and does not "take care of the marriage registration."

MK Lavie argued that "this section was inserted through the back door and is a black mark for the Knesset. Jewish men and women who choose to marry through means other than through the rabbinate should not be punished and perceived as criminals subject to two years in prison and bear the brunt of disgrace. The sentence of imprisonment for couples who chose to hold a private marriage ceremony is a violation of basic rights to freedom of religion and privacy and stands in contradiction to the values ​​of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

"The bill seeks to allow many couples whose needs are not met and choose not to register with the Chief Rabbinate, to marry according to Jewish law and not be considered criminals," she added.

Rabbi Shaul Farber, the chairman of ITIM, said: "It is inconceivable that in the state of the Jewish people, a person will be imprisoned for two years and treated as a criminal for performing a mitzvah (biblical commandment). This absurdness cries out to heaven, especially when we look abroad and see the rising anti-Semitism, especially under the guise of anti-Jewish legislation. The purpose of the clause in its current form is to preserve the monopoly of the rabbinate on marriage in Israel in an aggressive manner, and it prevents couples from conducting religious marriages according to their faith only because they did not seek to enter the gates of the religious establishment. Anyone who cares about the future of Judaism in the State of Israel must rise up against it. "

Dov Hayoun, a Conservative rabbi who was arrested three months ago following a complaint filed against him for holding a wedding outside the rabbinate, expressed his support for the bill and said, "The State of Israel must understand that there is no monopoly on Judaism. Many rabbis in other countries don't make aliyah because they cannot find a job. We are disqualified here as Jews, we have no rights."

"It is absurd that a rabbi who gave himself three years in the army does not accept the rights and recognition he deserves as a full-fledged Jew, as opposed to an ultra-Orthodox who did not give himself one day for the state," added Hayoun, a member of the Meretz party.