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Israeli gov’t ministry sued over marriage fees

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — A class action lawsuit was filed against Israel’s Religious Services Ministry on behalf of couples required by local religious councils to pay extra fees for a marriage certificate.

The Itim Jewish Advocacy Center, the nongovernmental organization that filed the suit last week, said at least six religious councils charged extra fees for what they called more special documents, but did not give the couples the option of purchasing the standard documents, according to a statement sent to JTA on Sunday. Itim is suing for nearly $72,000, it said.

“We have worked for the last few months to collect information from the religious councils that collect more money than is permitted from the couple that is getting married, and we hope that this litigation will help create a registration process for marriage that is fair and will prevent other religious councils from collecting fees beyond what has been determined by the Religious Services Ministry,” Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder and director of Itim, said in the statement.

Four of the six religious councils said they had offered the standard marriage certificate, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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