Israel edges toward civil weddings


A bill approved by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate would allow civil weddings for non-Jews.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced new legislation this week that would recognize
civil weddings performed in Israel for couples in which neither bride nor groom is Jewish under Orthodox law.

The bill, which is expected to win Knesset ratification, could address the needs of some 300,000 Israelis – most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union – who are barred from marrying in the Jewish state because they are considered gentiles by the rabbinate. It would not, however, be applicable for unions between a Jew and a non-Jew.

Friedmann voiced hope that civil weddings eventually will become an option for mainstream Israelis who do not want to go the Orthodox route, currently the only legally recognized one.

“I hope that with time it will be possible to persuade the political bodies that broadening this is warranted, and that it will be broadened,” he told Israel Radio on Thursday.

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