Protesters pray at Haifa Rabbinical Court after Conservative rabbi arrest

"The Israeli public wants an open and welcoming Judaism without coercion and most importantly one which respects every person’s path and customs," said Masorti leader Dr. Yizhar Hess.

July 22, 2018 20:20
2 minute read.
Rabbi Dov Hayun speaks at the prayer service and demonstration outside the Haifa Rabbinical Court on

Rabbi Dov Hayun speaks at the prayer service and demonstration outside the Haifa Rabbinical Court on Sunday. (photo credit: PHOTOMANIA PHOTOGRAPHERS)


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Some 300 men and women participated in a demonstration and afternoon prayer service outside the Haifa Rabbinical Court on Sunday following the detention and questioning of Masorti (Conservative) Rabbi Dov Hayun on Thursday for performing Jewish weddings outside of the Chief Rabbinate.

The event was organized by the Masorti Movement in Israel, with the Reform Movement, the Panim organization, and other groups also participating.

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Hayun led the prayer service as the worshipers donned prayer shawls and tefillin, as is customary for the afternoon service on the Fast of Tisha b’Av, and read from the Torah on the steps of the rabbinical court, which was closed for the day.

Speaking after the prayer service was concluded, Hayun said Tisha b’Av was “a day of social, communal, religious and national self-accounting” and that Israeli society must ask itself where it is and what it is doing in the face of what he described as discriminatory practices in the realm of religion and social policy.

“We cannot let this day pass without answering to ourselves the central question that God asks man: where are you?,” said Hayun.

“Where were you and what did you do when the rabbinical court here made young couples suffer for many years, and continues to do so. Where were you, and what did you do when they passed in the Knesset discriminatory and unequal laws,” he continued, referring to the 2013 law banning weddings outside of the chief rabbinate and the surrogacy law passed last week which prevents gay couples from gaining access to child surrogacy.

“Where were you when they arrested a rabbi at 5:30 in the morning because he married people in Jewish wedding ceremonies?… Where were you when baseless hatred filled the land?”

Hayun was detained in the early hours of Thursday morning following instructions issued by the Haifa Rabbinical Court to the Haifa Police to open an investigation into Hayun for violating the criminal code of the Law for Weddings and Divorce, which stipulates in a 2013 amendment that anyone conducting a wedding ceremony without registering it in the Chief Rabbinate is committing a criminal offense and is liable to two years in prison.

“What happened in the past [was] due to civil and baseless hatred,” said Masorati leader Dr. Yizhar Hess, noting the movement gives full backing to Hayun after his “outrageous” detention.

“Our rabbis, male and female, will continue to conduct weddings in accordance with Jewish law, and in accordance with our path and our beliefs,” he added.

“The Israeli public wants an open and welcoming Judaism without coercion and most importantly one which respects every person’s path and customs.

“The time has come to be free of the bonds of the monopoly. The time has come that Israel stops being the only place in the Western World where Jews do not have freedom of religion.”

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