Chief Rabbinate to talk civil marriage

PARIS (JTA) — Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Council will discuss the subject of a civil marriage contract in Israel, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi said.

Yona Metzger said Tuesday night in Paris that the opportunity for Israelis to be married under a civil authority would be discussed Thursday, marking the first time the rabbinate will talk about halachic solutions for non-religious unions. He spoke at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe annual conference, which gathers some 300 Orthodox rabbis from throughout Europe.

Metzger also reiterated that he was firmly against allowing mixed marriages between Jews and non-Jews in Israel, a controversial proposal made by Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Marriage and divorce between Jews in Israel must be performed under Orthodox Jewish law, though the state recognizes mixed marriages completed abroad. Civil marriages are not permitted within the state.

Metzger said that French Jews were victims of resurgent anti-Semitism due to their strong connection with Israel, and he thanked the community for holding pro-Israel rallies during the Israeli military offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

The three-day rabbinical conference concluded Wednesday after focusing on the danger of assimilation and the state of the modern Jewish family. The Rabbinical Centre represents some 700 Orthodox rabbis from across Europe.

Participants included the two Israeli chief rabbis, Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar; former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; and chief rabbis from Russia, Holland, France and Antwerp.

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