Chief rabbi skeptical about marriage bill

Bill seeks to prevent rabbis from taking money for performing weddings, except for travel expenses.

By
December 1, 2011 05:36
1 minute read.
Rabbinate fighting non-orthodox

Rabbinate fighting non-orthodox 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The office of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar expressed its concern Wednesday with the impression given by a bill proposed by MK Uri Orbach last week.

The bill seeks to amend a law pertaining to marriage, which would legally prevent rabbis from taking money for performing weddings, except for travel expenses.

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Orbach proposed the law against the background of the recent dispute between the religious- Zionist organization Tzohar and the Religious Services Ministry earlier this month.

Tzohar claims rabbis from local religious councils illegally charge money for conducting weddings, and the Religious Services Ministry and the chief rabbinate have sought to stymie Tzohar’s flagship free wedding service program, to protect the income of rabbis employed by the religious councils.

In response to Orbach’s bill, Amar’s office again denied there was any widespread phenomenon of local religious council rabbis charging money for their services.

“The situation today is that rabbis from local religious councils do not charge any money for weddings, apart from travel expenses,” Amar’s office said. “This bill, which will be brought onto the [public] agenda, gives the erroneous impression that rabbis have illegally charged money until now.”

Amar’s office said if it became clear there had been “one or two” instances of rabbis charging money for conducting weddings, they would be disciplined and, if necessary, suspended.

“Certainly, however, one cannot extrapolate from these individual cases to imply [the same is true] for the entire system, which works with efficiency and dedication,” his office said. “All legislation that benefits the public to provide it with the appropriate service and that will improve and streamline that service without infringing Halacha and its requirements will be warmly welcomed.”

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