‘Tzohar Bill’ approved by ministerial panel

Initiative would allow couples to register for marriage in any municipality, choose between stricter or more flexible rabbinates.

Alternative wedding, Tel Aviv_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Alternative wedding, Tel Aviv_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday a bill allowing residents to register for marriage in any municipality, marking a victory for Israel Beiteinu and religious-Zionist rabbinical group Tzohar.
Currently, every couple wishing to get married must register in their town, limiting their choice of rabbi. In addition, the rabbinates of some municipalities are stricter than others, causing problems for converts and children of converts, as well as those born Jewish whose parents were married abroad.
RELATED:Chief rabbis deny bias against Tzohar, begin probe Closure of Tzohar wedding project prompts outrage
MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) explained that she proposed the “Tzohar Bill” in order to create competition between the rabbinates, which receive NIS 600 from every couple registering to get married. She expressed hope that the initiative, which will be brought to a preliminary Knesset vote on Wednesday, would encourage stricter rabbinates to be more flexible.
Tzohar, which performs approximately 2,000 marriages every year through the rabbinate of Shoham, where the organization’s chairman, Rabbi David Stav, is chief rabbi, faced closure earlier this year when Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi (Shas) decided to enforce the law stipulating that couples must married by a rabbi from their city of residence.
Last week, the committee rejected the legislation proposed by Kirschenbaum due to opposition from Shas.
However, Israel Beiteinu threatened to try to pass the bill regardless of the ministers’ decision, with Kirschenbaum presenting it to the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, before announcing that the vote would be postponed so the ministers can discuss the bill again.
After the bill passed its second vote in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, Kirschenbaum explained that, once it is approved by the Knesset, the initiative will bring a “revolution” in marriages that will solve many problems.
Tzohar expressed its gratitude to Kirschenbaum and the Ministerial Committee on its Facebook page, saying that the bill will surely pass, because of the “widespread support we get from the Israeli public that wants to get married with love and according to Halacha.”