Now Is the Time to Change Marriage Laws in Israel

Inside Leadership

Now Is the Time to Change Marriage Laws in Israel

White lace chuppah with Star of David below

Freedom of choice in marriage is something that most of us in North America take entirely for granted. In Israel, however, marriage is controlled completely by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate – which maintains a monopoly on religion in the Jewish State. Reform and Conservative marriages, as well as civil marriages performed in Israel are not recognized as legal. Couples who wish to marry outside the authority of the Chief Rabbinate – by choice or by prohibition – must go abroad to do so.

The majority of Israelis oppose this injustice. In fact, the percentage of public support for freedom of choice in marriage in Israel has been increasing steadily. Today more than 70 percent of Israelis want the State of Israel to recognize Reform, Conservative, and civil marriages performed there, and the Reform Jewish community in Israel and North America is working to  change marriage laws in the Jewish State.

In a display of support for freedom of choice in marriage in Israel, three Israeli couples who are unwilling or unable to be united in Israel legally will be married in March in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.:

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
6:30 p.m. EST
Washington Hebrew Congregation
Washington D.C.

The couples will celebrate under the chuppah (wedding canopy) in a traditional Jewish ceremony that will be welcoming, inclusive, affirming of their multiple identities, and will call on the Israeli government to recognize Reform, Conservative, and civil weddings. In a ceremony that both honors our rich Judaic traditions and acknowledges the realities of 21st-century life, the Reform Movement will send a powerful message to Israel that the time to change marriage laws in the Jewish state is now. (In 2017, three other couples were similarly married at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, with a large contingent of Reform community members and leaders present.)

Just as the chuppot symbolize the Jewish homes these newest wedding couples will establish, plans are underway to ensure that the canopies also reflect the support of the entire North American Reform Movement by including the name of each of the continent’s nearly 900 Reform congregations on the chuppot poles.

May the wedding bells for these three couples – and all those who seek to marry in non-Orthodox or civil ceremonies in Israel – ring loudly and long, heralding freedom of choice in marriage for all.

To receive updates about this event to welcome three Israeli couples into the covenant of marriage, including information about how individuals and congregations can participate, complete this form and plan to join the festivities in person or via live stream on March 26.

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