A-G calls on chief rabbi to crack down on huppas-for-money

State-employed rabbis will no longer be allowed to supplement their salaries from "presents" received for presiding over wedding ceremonies.

By MATTHEW WAGNER
June 5, 2007 23:11
2 minute read.
A-G calls on chief rabbi to crack down on huppas-for-money

mazuz 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

State-employed rabbis will no longer be allowed to supplement their salaries from "presents" received for presiding over wedding ceremonies, according to a letter addressed to Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger from the State Attorney's Office. In the letter to Metzger, Shay Nitzan, deputy to the state attorney for special missions, asked the Chief Rabbi to set clear directives for state-employed rabbis who receive money on the side for officiating at the huppa. Writing in the name of Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, Nitzan asked Metzger to formulate, in coordination with the Chief Rabbinate's Governing Council, the National Religious Authority in the Prime Minister's Office and the Attorney-General's Office, clear directives on what is prohibited and what is permitted to all rabbis in the public service. Nitzan got involved after the Israel Religious Action Center, the Reform Movement's legal arm, and other legal watchdogs, quoting media reports, complained to the attorney-general that former Chief Ashkenazi rabbi and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau was paid to preside over marriages that took place in Tel Aviv. IRAC argued that Lau was obligated to provide his rabbinic services, including performing marriages, free of charge. They also said that all public servants, rabbis included, were forbidden to receive presents. The attorney-general's office investigated the charges and concluded that although the Chief Rabbinate had released various directives on the matter, "no clear distinction was made between what is prohibited and what is permitted. And it would be difficult to prove that Rabbi Lau intentional transgressed the law," Nitzan wrote. Nitzan also wrote that since Lau had received the money for the huppot in question regardless of the fact that he was Tel Aviv's chief rabbi. Rather, couples demanded Lau because of his personal charisma and history. Nitzan specified that only presents received by a public servant because of his or her status as a public servant are prohibited. Nitzan also rejected IRAC's claim that Lau was obligated to preside over marriages that took place in his city - Tel Aviv - free of charge. "It is not clear at all that doing a huppa for a couple that does not belong to the rabbi's community or even for a couple that does belong to the community, is part of the chief rabbi's duty," wrote Nitzan. Attorney Einat Hurvitz, Director of IRAC's legal department, said in response that the attorney-general was "purposely sidestepping the issue of Lau's misconduct to avoid a confrontation with the rabbinic establishment. "The attorney-general is using a play-dumb tactic when he denies that part of a rabbi's job is to preside of marriages," added Hurvitz. "If it is too difficult for him to go to so many marriages, then he should restrict himself to a few a month. But being highly demanded does not justify receiving payment," she argued. On December 24, 2002, the Attorney-General's Office issued directives to all rabbis employed by religious councils warning them that money received from presiding over marriages was taxable income. The directives also forbade rabbis to receive money for performing huppot as part of their regular job as a supplier of religious services. Most rabbis understood this to mean that they were not to receive money for huppot in areas in their jurisdiction, but that it was permitted in areas outside of it. Nitzan has demanded that the issue be clarified.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town

By SHARON UDASIN