Will Israel take the next steps to promote civil marriage? – opinion

Emily Crasnick recently described in an op-ed how she and her Israeli husband had to travel to Maine in order to get married. Brings the issue of marital freedom in Israel home to American Jews. Emily, a new immigrant from the United States, is a victim of the cynical and continuing political surrender of Israeli governments to the dictates of religious parties. She, like most children growing up in the Jewish community in America today, is ineligible to legally marry in Israel because Israeli politicians have handed over the monopoly on Jewish marriages in Israel to the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate; and no civil or unorthodox alternative marriages are allowed.

While the good news is that most Israelis share the commitment of American Jews to pluralism and religious freedom in general, and to the freedom of marriage in particular, the necessary change has yet to take place. However, the first step can occur as early as Friday.

Recently, the Minister of Religious Services, Matan Kahana, expressed his support for this limited change in an interview on Channel 11. Why should thousands of Israeli couples leave the country to get married in Cyprus and not be able to get married at their embassy in Tel Aviv? ? His reference to this channel as a way to promote the right to an alternative marriage outside the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel followed a positive and principled position, which he recently expressed: “I am convinced that in the State of Israel, the people should be able to realize their partnership, even if they don’t want to through the Chief Rabbinate. “Other coalition parties, such as Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and Meretz have repeatedly stated their support for the introduction of marriage. civil in Israel.

The moment of truth is now. The question is: how serious are Kahana, Lapid, et al, about allowing Israelis to marry whoever they want and how they want, rather than being forced to marry only through the Chief Rabbinate? Or worse: not being able to marry at all due to halachic restrictions, enforced by the orthodox rabbinical establishment in Israel?

This can be done immediately without legislation. It is clear to us, unfortunately, that legislating the introduction of civil marriage in Israel is a goal that will not be achieved soon in light of coalition agreements and government guidelines, which require that new legislation on matters of religion and state it can only be fulfilled. passed with the consent of all parties that are members of the coalition.

The writer and her husband at their wedding. (credit: ERICA FERRONE)

However, it is possible to advance this goal and make things easier for the many couples who cannot get married in Israel. According to Hiddush – For freedom of religion and equality, more than 600,000 Israeli citizens cannot marry in their country due to the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate. This includes Cohanim and divorcees, immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Halacha Jewish or cannot prove their Jewish status, LGBTQ individuals, converts, mamzerim (one born from an illegitimate relationship), and many more. To this must be added the thousands of couples who go abroad to marry for reasons of conscience.

Minister Kahana’s proposal cannot be implemented literally, as Cyprus does not allow marriage in its embassies. However, there are other embassies that would, if only the Israeli government canceled its demand that they refrain from allowing couples to marry through them. (This demand was issued in 1995 by the then Foreign Minister Ehud Barak under pressure from the religious parties and remains in force to this day). Last year, the Foreign Ministry informed the Knesset Interior Committee that its review revealed that the Norwegian Embassy, ​​for example, would be willing to marry Israeli couples if the Israeli government allowed it.

In 2000, I participated in a committee session on the subject in the Knesset, in which I presented the development of the issue of consular marriage in Israel. Even then, representatives of some consulates announced that they would be willing to provide marriage services to Israelis, if only the Israeli government allowed it.

The easily achievable next step, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Kahana, is simple: Lapid will rescind his 26-year-old predecessor’s lawsuit. In doing so, it will also render an important service for the advancement of individual freedoms, human dignity, freedom of religion and the principle of equality in Israel.

The ministers and their colleagues who support freedom of marriage in Israel are highly appreciated, but they must understand that the road to the desirable legislative solution for freedom of marriage is still a long way off. So, in addition to allowing consular marriages, they should persuade the interior minister to revoke the order to the Population Authority to refuse to register Israeli couples marrying online through Utah County in the US.

Utah County has pioneered an online marriage platform for its residents and people around the world. This platform offers a legal, accessible, cheap and fast civil marriage. Hundreds of Israeli couples have already married this way, but the former interior minister, Shas’s boss, Arye Deri, blocked their marriage records; and the current Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, and the State Prosecutor’s Office continue to respond “amen” to Deri’s illegal order to the Population Authority aimed at protecting the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly and making it difficult for Israeli couples to establish alternative channels. for marriage.

Hiddush has filed two court petitions on the matter, on behalf of couples married throughout Utah County and two Utah Reform rabbis who have officiated such weddings for Israelis; But, as we know, the wheels of justice turn slowly. It is up to you to demand the removal of this arbitrary and coercive barrier right now. Save the courts, us, and couples the time and hearings necessary to reach a judicial decision on the matter. By doing so, you will be facilitating an additional path, without the need for legislation, for many Israeli couples who are denied the right to marry or who seek to fulfill their civil right to marry in a way consistent with their values ​​and beliefs.

Israel’s Jewish public unequivocally supports freedom of marriage, as well as the introduction of civil marriage in Israel, as the numerous surveys commissioned by Hiddush on this issue have clearly demonstrated. The majority is particularly large among the voters of the coalition parties. A real long-term solution is needed, one that does not require Israeli citizens to exercise their right to marry through international detours. However, until the Knesset legislates an alternative to civil marriage as a parallel and equal channel for religious marriage in Israel, you can open a door for civil marriage in Israel today, if you really take your statements seriously and are willing to put them. in practice. .

The writer heads Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, a non-partisan, transdenominational Israel-Diaspora association.


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