(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Religious Services Ministry has just announced the launch of the “Digital Religious Council,” a mobile application that will allow anyone wishing to register for marriage to do so remotely.
The new system, called Shirat Hayam, or Song of the Sea in Hebrew, has been designed to overhaul the notoriously bureaucratic and difficult marriage registration process that has existed until now.
In the new process, engaged couples will only need to visit the marriage registration office of the religious council they register through once, while all other registration requirements should be possible to carry out via the app.
Critical documents which are needed by the marriage registration office can be uploaded and sent through the app, such as marriage certificates, proofs of Jewish status, and similar, while coordinating an appointment with the registration office and other requirements can also be carried out on the app.
The app is not yet available for download, but will be rolled out in the coming weeks, although basic registration requirements can now be carried out through the new system on the Religious Services Ministry website.
Use of the app and registry services is already available through several local religious councils, and the ministry says that all 132 religious councils around the country will be operating the system by the end of September.
The development of the app is part of efforts by the ministry to modernize its services and make the marriage registration system less bureaucratic, less difficult and more user friendly.
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Local rabbinates and religious councils have been subject to intense criticism in recent years by activist groups and others for an obstacle-laden and unwelcoming registration process that is frequently complicated and fraught with bureaucratic difficulties.
For immigrants to Israel, the process is frequently more difficult due to the requirement to provide proof of Jewish status from rabbis abroad, which are often questioned by the rabbinate, and similar issues.
Religious Services Minister David Azoulai welcomed the new system, saying it represented a new path ahead for religious services in which “advanced technology will improve services,” and “a path for making services easier for citizens.”
Said Azoulai “We have invested massive resources and great effort in this project and this is just the beginning of the ‘services revolution’ in the Religious Services Ministry’.”
According to the ministry, the development of the new system, called Shirat Hayam, or Song of the Sea in Hebrew, equipment for its use, and other requirements cost some NIS 50 million.
Ministry director-general Attorney Oded Flus said other services were also in the process of being made digitally available including for services relating to mikva use and kashrut.
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