(photo credit: GPO)
Following the storm that erupted two weeks ago surrounding the issue of wedding
licenses for rabbis, MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) proposed a new bill to
address one of the core complaints in the controversy.
submitted last week, would make it illegal for a rabbi employed by a local
religious council to accept money or any other form of remuneration when
performing a wedding for someone who lives in the city where he
“Do MKs get money for drafting legislation?” Orbach asked in a
conversation with The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday. “Marrying people is part of a
rabbi’s job, so there’s no reason he should get money for this service when he
gets a salary from the state.”
Much of the controversy surrounding the
wedding issue involves claims that rabbis employed by local religious councils
request money or other forms of payment for the weddings they perform. The
Tzohar rabbinical organization says that it is because of the widespread nature
of this phenomenon that it initiated its free wedding service, which it had to
shut down temporarily two weeks ago due to bureaucratic obstacles that it
attributed to the Religious Services Ministry.
Under Orbach’s bill, a
rabbi would still be able to receive compensation for expenses such as travel
Due to the prevalence of rabbis asking to be paid for
weddings, the Attorney-General’s Office issued a number of directives in 2009
regulating the system.
Orbach said, however, that there were still
loopholes that the directives did not eliminate.
For instance, he noted,
a rabbi in a given neighborhood could legally request payment from a couple
residing in a different neighborhood of the city, even though both neighborhoods
were under the jurisdiction of the same local religious council.
also a need, he said, to prevent the regulations being revoked, and legislation
would ensure they wouldn’t be.
Following a meeting of the Council of the
Chief Rabbinate two weeks ago, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar stated that the
phenomenon of rabbis taking unauthorized payments for performing weddings was
However, Orbach said on Sunday that “it’s more common
than they like to admit, and it should be rectified.” He added that he hoped the
rabbinate would support the bill.
“Rabbis should also know clearly, when
they take a job with a local religious council, the benefits and the
restrictions of the position,” he stated.
In response to the new bill,
the Religious Services Ministry stated that it treated deviation from existing
regulations extremely seriously.
“The Ministry of Religious Services has
established procedures in the past for conducting weddings, with regard to
remuneration, in full coordination with the Ministry of Justice and with the
approval of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate,” the ministry said in a
statement. “Any deviation from the procedures will be treated harshly by the
ministry, which regrets any phenomenon that contradicts the
It added that Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi
(Shas) was “determined to eliminate any practice that contravenes the guidelines
and which does not conform to the ministry’s policies, and [he] is constantly
striving to improve the service it provides to citizens in the regional
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