Wedding dance 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Hiddush)
Heavy criticism was leveled at the marriage registration process on Monday
during a hearing of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, while several
proposals for solving the problems were also discussed.
services and rights groups present at the hearing explained to the committee
some of the difficulties commonly experienced by couples, and especially women,
seeking to register for marriage in Israel.
Committee chairwoman and Yesh
Atid MK Aliza Lavie said that the behavior of marriage registrars in local
religious councils was unacceptable and is one of the causes behind increasing
numbers of people seeking civil marriage abroad.
“It’s inconceivable that
despite the fact that the Religious Services Ministry issues clear directives,
marriage registrars are in effect a law unto themselves,” Lavie said during the
“The behavior of the establishment responsible for marriage
registration is pushing large sections of the public, who would ideally prefer
to marry according to Jewish tradition, to chose civil marriage.”
the problems discussed were the refusal of some marriage registrars to accept
the testimony of women as to the “single” status of their friends, a
clarification required in the marriage registration process.
by The Jerusalem Post in December, numerous local rabbinates have refused to
allow women to testify for this purpose, despite the fact that such testimony is
not tied to Jewish law, does not contravene Jewish law, and the Chief Rabbinate
has authorized female testimony for questions of marital status.
committee heard, however, that legislation is already in the pipeline to create
a single jurisdiction for marriage registration, as opposed to the current
situation in which a couple must register in the city of residence of one of the
The legislation is designed to increase competition for
registration and other administrative fees, thereby creating motivation for
local religious councils to improve their provision of services to the
Rabbi Uriel Ganzal, a member of the Tzohar rabbinical
association, which has promoted the legislation, said marriage registration was
a “fateful issue” for the Jewish people.
“The state took upon itself the
framework for Jewish marriage so that we would not split into separate entities,
so we have to create a pleasant and comfortable experience when providing such
services,” said Ganzal.
Another issue discussed was the frequent refusal
of marriage registrars to validate prenuptial agreements pertaining to divorce,
in contravention of the law, as well as the failure of marriage registrars to
inform couples about the possibility of signing such
Prenuptial agreements drafted in accordance with Jewish law
have been advocated by women’s rights groups in order to prevent the phenomenon
in which husbands refuse to grant their wives a bill of divorce, thereby
preventing her from remarrying and having children.
Mavoi Satum, a
women’s rights organization, has proposed a bill by which a couple registering
for marriage would automatically receive a rabbinically approved prenuptial
agreement form. The bill has the support of Deputy Religious Services Minister
Eliahu Ben- Dahan.
“We hope couples never have to use the agreements,
which are seen as ‘unromantic,’” said Mavoi Satum director Batya Kehana. “But
these agreements guarantee that neither side keeps hold of their spouse against
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