Marriage in protest: Three weddings make a statement to Rabbinate

Same-sex couple says they will marry in DC because no recognizable entity in Israel will acknowledge their marriage

Wedding rings [Illustrative] (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Wedding rings [Illustrative]
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The State of Israel does not recognize marriages outside of the Rabbinate, propelling three Jewish couples to protest the status quo by preparing to marry in Washington DC.
"I wish that in the state that I love so much, that I could just get married." Micha Yehudi, a participant of the protest with his husband, Yeshai Moskovitch, said.
Same-sex couples, interfaith couples, and those who want to perform a Reform or Conservative wedding do not have the opportunity to do so in the Jewish state. However, Israel does recognize these marriages if they are performed legally outside of the country. In protest of the Chief Rabbinate's control over marriage, three couples are teaming up with the Israel Religious Action Center to tie the knot on March 26, 2019, at 6:30 PM at Washington Hebrew Congregation.
"I am the problematic side, my mother underwent conversion... in Romania," Shmuel Carmel said concerning his marriage to his wife, Anat. "My mother is Christian, and my father is Jewish. And they [the Rabbinate] simply decided that it doesn't apply in Israel," Carmel said.
Yehudi and Moskovitch's reason for marrying in Washington is, "We can't. There is no recognizable entity that would acknowledge our marriage," Moskovitch said of the couple's same-sex relationship.
Ilia Rabkin and Sahar Rabkin can legally marry in Israel. "Both of us are Jewish by the halacha," Ilia Rabkin said, referring to Jewish religious law, but they would not be allowed for the ceremony to be performed the way they want.
"I wanted to take part in the ceremony. I wanted to give him a ring," Sahar Rabkin said. "We didn’t want him to purchase me. We wanted it to be "'equally,'" they said simultaneously.
The three couples - one gay, one considered an "interfaith" marriage by the rabbinate, and one couple wanting to perform a Reform wedding ceremony - are joining forces with the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), an Israel-based civil rights organization that released a video on Monday inviting the Washington community to celebrate together with the couples.
Some 73 people have said they will attend, on the wedding event's Facebook page. Following the colloquial Facebook equation - which takes 55% of those who say they are going and adds 35% of those who say maybe - that means 94 people will show up, but the event still has almost two months to gain traction.
While the couples are happy to get married legally, they are sad that they cannot perform their marriage in their home country.
"The fact that we're going to do it by ourselves [is difficult]," Moskovitch said. "Most of our family is not going to be here."
But the group also wanted "to spread the message that there is a Judaism that is more up-to date," Shmuel said.
The wedding celebration for the three couples will take place on the same day as an AIPAC conference, following the Israel advocacy organization's event.