MK Tzipi Hotovely announced Monday she would be introducing a bill, along side
MK Uri Orbach, to legally ensure that any rabbi with ordination from the Chief
Rabbinate is able to carry out wedding ceremonies.
The move comes
following furor that erupted last week
when the religious-Zionist Tzohar
rabbinical organization shut down its free wedding service because of
bureaucratic obstacles erected by the Religious Services Ministry. A deal
was eventually reached and Tzohar restarted its program.RELATED:
In a hearing
today in the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, which
Hotovely chairs, she said the current situation needs to be corrected, despite
the agreement reached last week, and the criteria defining which rabbis can
conduct weddings need to be overhauled.
Orbach, also present at the
hearing, denounced the rabbinate in particularly vehement terms.
harassment of Tzohar rabbis began with the Chief Rabbinate, and then was
continued by the Religious Services Ministry,” he said. “It is these two
agencies that are strangling Tzohar because it threatens the rabbinate… It’s the
Chief Rabbinate who is preventing religious-Zionist rabbis from performing
weddings by establishing criteria enabling any rebbe, even if he’s known only to
his hassidim, to perform weddings, while a senior religious-Zionist rabbi,
doesn’t qualify according to these criteria.”
The proposed bill will seek
to change the existing criteria for approving marriage licenses for rabbis,
which Tzohar says discriminate against their rabbis and prevent hundreds of them
from officiating at weddings. The new law, if passed, would mean that any rabbi
with ordination from the rabbinate, who has received approval from the chief
rabbi of any city, and has passed a course dealing with the laws of marriage,
will be able to register couples and officiate at their wedding.
said at the hearing, “the truth is distorted when the religious services
minister or anyone else can allocate quotas for marriage. Why does someone who
has rabbinical ordination from the rabbinate, passed exams and bears the title
of a rabbi, need to send faxes before every wedding to get a permit to perform
the wedding?” Shas MK Haim Amsalem weighed in on the broader aspects of the
“Every day last month we witnessed another form of
[religious] radicalization, ” he observed. “Where is this leading to?” he
asked, and called on the rabbinate to halt what he termed its “sabotage and
Ilan Gilon of Meretz went even further and called for a
complete separation of church and state.
“We think that religion has
taken over politics but really it’s the other way around, politics has taken
over religion.” Full pluralism, said Gilon, is the only solution.
“I am a
man of faith, I’m not secular, but I think we need to separate religion and
state to allow everyone to find exactly what they want to find.”