Restrictions on rabbis from conducting weddings removed

Tzohar rabbis authorized as long as they supply proof of rabbinic ordination, know laws of marriage, currently serve as rabbi, teacher.

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September 21, 2011 06:55
2 minute read.
Rabbi Galit Oren-Moran conducts a wedding ceremony

secular marriage (dont use). (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The religious-Zionist rabbinical group Tzohar, which provides rabbis free of charge to perform weddings, announced on Tuesday that it has succeeded in gaining approval from the Council of the Chief Rabbinate to conduct wedding ceremonies.

Executive Vice-President of Tzohar, Nachman Rosenberg, said that Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in particular was critical to advancing the necessary changes for this reform.

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“Tzohar praises this decision and especially the work of Rabbi Amar in succeeding to bring about this dramatic change, despite the opposition of some of the extremists on the Council of the Chief Rabbinate who oppose us,” Rosenberg told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“Rabbi Amar’s efforts will help many young people and allow them to marry in a Jewish wedding and not run away to get married in civil ceremony in Cyprus,” he added.

Tzohar established a project in 1996 to reach out to secular Israelis who had negative experiences with the Chief Rabbinate and provide them with the opportunity to have a rabbi more sympathetic to their level of religious observance marry them without charge or expectation of any other kind of remuneration.

According to Rosenberg, this led the rabbinate to enact a series of restrictions making it virtually impossible for a rabbi to marry a couple who registered for marriage in a particular city without the permission of the rabbinate of that specific city or a rabbi on the Chief Rabbinate’s payroll.

Opponents of Tzohar claim that the group is too lenient regarding the numerous Jewish laws surrounding marriage ceremonies, and so rabbis from the organization would invariably be refused a license to perform weddings.

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On Sunday, the Council of the Chief Rabbinate decided to remove its restrictions and will now instruct local rabbinates and rabbis to permit Tzohar rabbis to perform wedding ceremonies as long as they supply proof of their rabbinic ordination, demonstrate knowledge of the laws of marriage, and currently serve as a rabbi or teacher.

Due to a number of exceptions and ongoing pressure, Tzohar has nevertheless managed to perform 3,000 weddings a year, approximately 20% of all secular weddings.

“There’s no reason why Zionist rabbis in Israel should have to fight so hard to help secular couples interested in a Jewish wedding to get married,” Rosenberg said.

“We hope that this victory will help thousands of secular Jews to get married according to Jewish law and allow many other rabbis to volunteer for Tzohar to further this goal.”

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