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Israeli chief rabbi reneges on charging wedding fees

JERUSALEM, March 24 (JTA) — Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau announced this week that he will no longer accept payment for conducting weddings. He would instead propose that couples donate the money to worthy causes. The chief rabbi’s statement came in the wake of reports that he frequently was paid for conducting marriages. The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported last week that Lau performed more than 100 marriages a year and regularly collected fees ranging from $500 to $2,000 per couple. Because marrying couples pay a fee to their local religious councils, rabbis are not paid for performing marriages. In a statement issued this week, the chief rabbi said he had decided to refuse any kind of payment in light of the public storm the disclosure created. “I have taken upon myself to set a new public norm,” Lau said. “From today, I will not accept any donation for weddings and will suggest to couples who ask me to marry them to make a voluntary” donation to a charitable organization.

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