|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post|
Breakthrough seen likely in Tzohar-Rabbinate impasse
By JEREMY SHARON
Tzohar has protested restrictions Religious Services Ministry, Chief Rabbinate imposed on its rabbis performing weddings.
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger held a meeting Sunday morning with Rabbi David Stav,
chairman of the Tzohar association of national religious rabbis, The Jerusalem
Post has learned, to reach a compromise on the ability of Tzohar rabbis to
Tzohar has protested restrictions the Religious
Services Ministry and the Chief Rabbinate have imposed on its rabbis, which
prevented many of them from conducting wedding ceremonies.
was sought as a means to avoid intervention by the High Court of Justice and the
Knesset, and to peaceably resolve what had become a rancorous public
The office of the Chief Rabbinate declined to comment on the matter
following an inquiry by the Post.
Tzohar confirmed that the meeting took
place, but stated that no agreements had been reached and that a further meeting
had been arranged.
During Sunday’s meeting, also attended by Rabbi Ratzon
Arusi, chairman of the Chief Rabbinate’s Weddings Committee, Metzger agreed to
greatly simplify the process through which rabbis can acquire a permit to
conduct weddings, thereby opening the way for the hundreds of Tzohar rabbis who
have faced difficulties getting such permits, to be approved.
the Post understands, Tzohar indicated that it may be willing to back down on
its demand that legislation be passed in the Knesset to liberalize the marriage
registration process in a much broader manner.
It is believed that Tzohar
may also agree to have a petition filed on its behalf to the High Court
regarding the matter be withdrawn.
The Chief Rabbinate and Metzger had
expressed opposition to the proposed legislation, claiming that it would greatly
damage the reliability of the rabbinate marriage process and thereby lead to
irreparable divisions within the Jewish people, with members of more stringent
streams refusing to marry anyone whose parents were married through the
The issued erupted in November when Tzohar temporarily closed
its flagship free wedding service in protest at the rabbinate’s
This move prompted a torrent of political and public anger
aimed at the religious establishment, eventually leading to a temporary fix,
agreed upon between Stav and Religious Services Minister Ya’acov
At the heart of the controversy was Tzohar’s allegation that
rabbinate-affiliated city rabbis frequently, and illegally, demand money in
exchange for performing weddings. Tzohar said the rabbinate imposed the
restrictions on its rabbis in order to protect this source of income for
The Chief Rabbinate has denied these
Tzohar established a project in 1996 to reach out to secular
Israelis who had negative experiences with the Chief Rabbinate and provide them
with the opportunity to have a rabbi more sympathetic to their level of
religious observance marry them without charge or expectation of any other kind