The Tel Aviv Rabbinate has removed a clause in its marriage licensing policy
that forced resident couples to register for marriage in Tel Aviv. The
decision follows pressure from the ITIM advocacy group and the Religious
Concerns had been raised that the clause was
intentionally compelling couples to register for marriage with the Tel Aviv
Rabbinate so that it could benefit from the NIS 600 registration fees.
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Restrictions on rabbis from conducting weddings removed
March of this year, ITIM began receiving calls through its information hotline
from engaged couples who had booked a wedding venue in Tel Aviv, but had
subsequently registered for a marriage license in a different city, unaware that
this would cause difficulties.
Problems also arose when one of the two
was a Tel Aviv resident, since in a situation when marriage registration is
conducted in one city and one of the partners is a resident in a different city,
a teudat revakut certifying him or her as being single is required in order for
the wedding to be approved by the rabbinate.
When one of the partners was
a Tel Aviv resident, and therefore required a teudat revakut from the Tel Aviv
Rabbinate, the document was issued but included a clause stating, “If the
wedding is to take place in Tel Aviv, this certificate is not valid.”
other words, the situation in which this would be problematic arises when one of
the partners is from Tel Aviv but open a marriage file in a rabbinate outside of
Tel Aviv, for whatever reason, yet nevertheless want to have their marriage
ceremony take place in Tel Aviv. In this scenario, the Tel Aviv resident would
be forced to refile the marriage paperwork at the rabbinate in Tel
Aviv,therefore costing them an additional second payment of NIS 600.
should be noted, however, that if both parties are Tel Aviv residents and want
to have the marriage take place in that city, they only need a marriage file and
don’t need to acquire a teudat revakut.
According to director of ITIM
Rabbi Shaul Farber, hundreds of Tel Aviv residents were caught in a trap whereby
they had made wedding arrangements in Tel Aviv but could not get a valid teudat
revakut because of the clause in the rabbinate’s certificate, and were therefore
prevented from getting married in Tel Aviv as they had intended.
couples were then forced into protracted struggles with the rabbinate where the
registration was initially issued in attempts to get their money back, failing
which many had to pay the NIS 600 registration fee for a second time to the Tel
There are approximately 40,000 weddings every year in
Israel, around 9,000 of which take place in Tel Aviv.
“Opening a marriage
file ought to be a process which embraces young couples, as it is one of the few
encounters secular Jews have with the Orthodox Jewish establishment,” Farber
told The Jerusalem Post.
“Instead of embracing the couple and making it
easier, the Tel Aviv Rabbinate in this case, and the rabbinate in general, layer
on piles of bureaucracy, which distances people from our tradition.”
the Religious Services Ministry became aware of the issue in May, the ministry’s
director of marriages wrote to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate stating that the clause
was forcing people to register in Tel Aviv and “completely contravened the
directions of the ministry.” The letter requested that the clause be
removed within 10 days.
In response, the head of the Tel Aviv Rabbinate’s
marriages department, Rabbi Yehuda Landau, claimed in a letter to the Religious
Services Ministry that the clause did not contravene ministry directions.
Nevertheless, chairman of the Tel Aviv Rabbinate Eldad Mizrachi confirmed to the
Post on Tuesday that the offending clause had been removed as of the beginning
of this week.
When asked why the removal of the clause had been delayed
by five months, the Tel Aviv rabbinate claimed that it had never received a
response from the Religious Services Ministry. According to the ministry,
Mizrachi simply delayed implementing its demand until this week.
a battle going on for the future of Jewish life in Israel,” said Rabbi
“This is one small battlefield where no one else is willing to
speak up, and someone has to fight for ordinary Israelis who feel intimidated
and antagonized by a rabbinate that is in theory there to help
ITIM stated that the issue is another component in a trend in
which the rabbinate “creates bureaucratic problems.”
“There’s no reason
people should feel alienated and disenfranchised,” said Farber.
clause was illegal, unjustified and denied people their rights, causing
unnecessary anguish for hundreds of people. We’re glad that it is now being