Haredi MK calls Knesset c'tee 'trash can of Judaism'

Moshe Gafni lambasts Constitution, Law and Justice Committee discussing so-called Tzohar bill on marriage registrations.

June 10, 2013 19:36
2 minute read.
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ)

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Firebrand United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni denounced Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK David Rotem as “anti-religious” on Monday and said that the committee would be “the trash can of Judaism.”

Gafni spoke during a committee hearing that debated the so-called Tzohar-bill for the removal of geographic restrictions on marriage registration.

There was also further deliberation over a bill related to reserving four spots for women on the committee for appointing rabbinical judges.

“The Messiah will see what you’re doing here in this committee and he won’t come,” Gafni told Rotem of Yisrael Beytenu. This committee will be the trash can of Judaism,” he pronounced, saying that Rotem had always been “anti-religious.”

Haredi MKs oppose the two bills under discussion for several reasons.

Their parties claim that the proposed changes to the marriage registration bureaucracy will reduce the need to rely on the state rabbinate. They will lead to a situation in which ultra-Orthodox communities will no longer rely on the rabbinate marriage system, thereby splitting Orthodox Jewry in Israel into separate camps.

Haredi MKs also oppose the bill reserving seats for women on the rabbinical judges’ appointments committee. They fear the legislation will lead to the appointment of more liberal-minded judges who might be inclined to a tempered interpretation of Jewish law, especially with regard to matters of marriage and divorce.

During Monday’s hearing, the Constitution Law and Justice Committee agreed to implement the “continuity provision” for the Tzohar bill, which began legislation during the last Knesset but was stalled by the general election in January.

The continuity provision allows a bill held up in this way to continue along the legislative process from where it left off, providing it had passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum – which the Tzohar bill has – and as long as one of the original proponents of the bill is still an MK – as is Faina Kirshenbaum of Yisrael Beytenu, who first proposed the legislation.

The Tzohar bill would abolish the current geographic restrictions for marriage registration, whereby a couple can only register for marriage in the city of residence of one of the spouses.

The idea behind the bill is to allow freedom of choice for couples in choosing where to embark on what is the bureaucratic, and frequently troublesome marriage registration process.

It is also hoped that by stimulating competition between local religious councils and rabbinates for the NIS 600 registration fee of those eager to wed, those entities will be forced to improve their registration services.

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