Israelis marry less through rabbinate, cohabit more -survey

Some 88,000 couples live together without being married, including 83,000 couples where at least one partner is formally recognized as being Jewish.

February 6, 2019 18:49
1 minute read.
wedding rings

Wedding rings [Illustrative]. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)


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Figures released on Tuesday have demonstrated a sharp increase in the number of couples in Israel cohabiting instead of getting married.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are some 88,000 couples living together without being married, including 83,000 couples where at least one partner is formally recognized as being Jewish.

In 2016, there were 83,000 cohabiting couples in total, a 6% increase in just the course of one year.

These figures accompany data released by the Religious Services Ministry in January which demonstrate a decline in the number of couples registering for Jewish marriage.

Whereas some 37,675 couples registered for marriage in 2016, that figure dropped to 35,163 in 2018, a decrease of 6.6% over two years, despite an annual 2% increase in the size of the general population.

The ministry said that one reason for the decrease in the numbers of Jewish couples registering for marriage is significant increase in the average age at which people are getting married.

It did however acknowledge that there has been “a dramatic increase” in the number of couples living together without getting married.

Additionally, the ministry pointed to an increase in the number of couples marrying outside of the Chief Rabbinate in ceremonies which are not recognized by the state. Such weddings include those conducted by the Reform and Conservative movements, but also by Orthodox rabbis.

According to the ministry, there has however been a 7.5% decrease in the number of couples marrying in civil ceremonies abroad.

The Ne’emanei Torah VaAvodah religious-Zionist organization said the statistics indicated “a severe crisis” in relations between the Chief Rabbinate and Israeli citizens, adding that the sharp increase in cohabiting couples should be “a badge of shame” for the institution.

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