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Chicago Board of Rabbis Warns on Weddings Performed by Cantors

The Chicago Board of Rabbis, representing all three branches of Judaism, issued a warning today that “acceptability of future weddings may be in doubt if performed without benefit of a rabbi.” The statement was issued in connection with a recent court ruling that weddings performed by cantors were not valid

Although the statement did not refer directly to the recent ruling by a Superior Court judge to that effect, the rabbinical board said that the proper role for a cantor in a marriage was to “participate with the rabbi in the ceremony by chanting appropriate portions of the service.”

At the same time, a divorce was granted Mrs. Judith Poland by Superior Court Judge David A. Canel, who had issued the opinion that “cantors could not legally perform weddings.” He refused to grant Mrs. Poland an annulment on those grounds, however, instructing her to seek a divorce action instead, so that the issue would be cleared in her case.

After Judge Canel issued his ruling. State Rep. Michael F. Zlatnik prepared a bill for submission to the Illinois legislature next January, which would legalize all previous marriages by cantors in Illinois.

In a related action, Rabbi Moses Mescheloff, president of the Orthodox Chicago Rabbinical Council, offered without charge the services of members of the Council to “marry again” any couple involved in Such a marriage where investigation would show possible jeopardy under Jewish religious law.

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