JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet let stand an amendment that would subject rabbis who perform wedding ceremonies outside the Chief Rabbinate’s purview and the marrying couple to a jail term of up to two years.
On Sunday, the Cabinet debated the amendment to legislation passed last year that allows couples to go outside their own communities to find a rabbi certified by the Chief Rabbinate to marry them. Dozens of couples marry outside of the Chief Rabbinate every year.
“The present law is an outrage,” Rabbi Seth Farber, director of the ITIM Advocacy Center, which wrote the proposed change to the amendment, said in a statement. “I am disappointed that the Cabinet couldn’t look beyond petty politics in order to rectify this law, which is disproportionately severe and ludicrous. Israel is now among a few select countries where it is a criminal act to perform a chuppah.”
Farber said his organization will now seek litigation to protect rabbis and couples who want to be married outside the Chief Rabbinate.