MK Svetlova gets married without rabbinate

"The only one that was absent from this beautiful ceremony was the Orthodox rabbinate, which has a monopoly on marriage in the State of Israel.”

April 5, 2017 19:20
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv

Former 'Jerusalem Post' writer Ksenia Svetlova. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)


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In an act of defiance directed toward the Chief Rabbinate, Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova got married this week in the Seychelles, specifically avoiding marriage registration through the Chief Rabbinate.

Svetlova posted a picture on Facebook Tuesday night of herself with her husband, Anatoly Aliev, standing on the white sands of a Seychelles beach after the wedding, emphasizing her decision not to get married through the rabbinate.

This is the MK’s second marriage, and she has said publicly that during the divorce process in her previous marriage through the rabbinical courts she was denied a divorce by her estranged husband for two years.

“The ceremony was simple and modest. Our dearest friends were beside us at this special moment. The only one that was absent from this beautiful ceremony was the Orthodox rabbinate, which has a monopoly on marriage in the State of Israel,” Svetlova said in her Facebook post. “We both felt that this entity has nothing to do with our Judaism, and we were not ready to be forced, on the happiest day of our lives, to play according to the rules of a game that is alien to us.

“No one has ownership of Judaism, and it is inconceivable that in a Jewish state, one obsessive body will have an absolute monopoly on our lives!” She added that she hoped Israelis will one day be able to marry “in their own way” inside Israel, and that she will continue to work toward this goal.

Israel has no provision for civil marriage, and the various established religious institutions, such as the Chief Rabbinate for Jews, are the only ways of getting married in the state.

Civil marriages conducted abroad are, however, recognized by the state and the Interior Ministry.

Last November, Svetlova introduced a bill in the Knesset for the government to provide monetary compensation to couples for the costs of marrying abroad in a civil ceremony, famously speaking from the podium in a bridal veil and white suit.

Some 364,000 Israelis from the former Soviet Union, including their children born in Israel, are officially classified as “without religion,” meaning they are not Jewish according to Jewish law and therefore effectively have no way to marry in Israel, along with 284,000 members of the LGBT community who also cannot get married here.

Citizens from the former Soviet Union who are Jewish also have serious problems registering for marriage, since the Chief Rabbinate and the rabbinical courts have become increasingly stringent evaluating Soviet-era personal documentation they require as proof of Jewish identity.

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