November 8, 2011
Alternative religious wedding ceremonies are banned
An organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis who performed alternative religious wedding ceremonies for non-religious couples has been banned from registering the couples as married.
The Tzohar organization said Tuesday that the religious services minister, a member of the haredi Orthodox Shas Party, told Tzohar that it would no longer be allowed to register couples with the ministry as married, effectively shutting down a service that has been marrying 3,000 couples a year free of charge.
A Jewish couple must have a religious ceremony in Israel in order to be recognized as married. Many travel abroad to marry in secular ceremonies.
Tzohar helped to involve couples and their families in the ceremony.
Weddings must be registered with the municipal rabbinate where one member of the couple lives. Tzohar had been registering couples with one of two municipal rabbinates headed by members of the organization, in Shoham and Gush Etzion.
The Religious Services Ministry is ending the practice by limiting the total number of marriage certificates that each of those ministries can provide in a year to 200.