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July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
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Revolutionary Marriage Reform Law Spells End to Haredi Domination

A seemingly minor law on where couples can register for marriage permits passed the Knesset and opens a new era in which Israelis will not be at the mercy of Haredi rabbis’ demands.
Newlywed couple Harel and Talya David under the Chupa in Karnei Shomron in Judea and Samaria.

Newlywed couple Harel and Talya David under the Chupa in Karnei Shomron in Judea and Samaria.
Photo Credit: Flash 90

The Knesset voted Monday night in favor of a bill sponsored by the Jewish Home party that in effect breaks the grip of Haredi rabbis on marriage permits in the country. It easily passed on second and third readings in the Knesset with the only opposition coming from Haredi Knesset Members.

The “Tzohar Law,” named after the organization of modern orthodox rabbis who have been vying for more influence in the country’s religious establishment, will allow couples to register for marriages anywhere they want.

The change is not minor. Certain cities are known to be a nightmare for couples who are often faced with local rabbis’ extreme demands concerning their being Jewish, their lifestyles, and also touching on customs that vary in different communities, such Sephardi and Ashkenazi, and which are not required to be observed by everyone.

One rabbi who has performed dozens if not hundreds of marriages told The Jewish Press that one city, which is not being named here in order not to blemish its name, is a known problem because of local Haredi rabbis’ conditions that often are “unreasonable.”

Now that a prospective bride and groom can register wherever they want, Haredi rabbis will lose any influence, good or bad, they once had over secular and non-Haredi religious couples. If the Haredi establishment had been a bit more flexible in the past decade, it could have won the respect of tens of thousands of Jews who might have been swayed to become more observant.

Instead, their insensitivity to Israeli’s desire for tradition without coercion has cost them their dominance and has allowed modern orthodox rabbis to take over as much more widely accepted role models.

The winners of the new law are the Tzohar rabbis and the Jewish Home Party, which is rapidly shaking off its predecessor’s National Religious Party stigma of representing only observant Jews and those that believe that Jewish development in Judea and Samaria is the only important issue for the country.

The party has attracted non-observant supporters with an election platform that supported civil marriages, and the Tzohar law is bound to attract more non-religious supporters who want to marry according to Jewish law without having to be subservient to Haredi rabbis’ ultimatums.

“We have opened the religious services market, “ said Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett.

The Tzohar rabbis recently lost an important battle with the Haredi establishment, which elected Rabbi David Lau as Chief Ashkenazi rabbi instead of Tzohar Rabbi David Stav.

The new law will also create a computerized database for the registrations, making the records accessible to all of the registrars.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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11 Responses to “Revolutionary Marriage Reform Law Spells End to Haredi Domination”

  1. Gideon Jones says:

    Sure Orthodox Judaism might be the only denomination not committing religious suicide, but why should that stop anyone from embracing the policies just proven harmful to Judaism in the latest pew poll?

    importing what has failed in the U.S. miserably is SURE to be just great in Israel. I mean, what else does she have to worry about?

  2. Daniel Suter says:

    hurraaaaaaaaaaaaaa now we me and my since 12years long girlfriend with an 10 years old son we going to married

  3. Anonymous says:

    What an incredibly biased reporter! He presumes the new law is a good thing, when– in truth– it is NOT! It's another nail in the coffin of Israel as the only Jewish state, as well as another assault on Torah.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree its a biased article. ALL that counts is what G-d wants…. what the law is. That should be the only question not empty buzz words like dominating, extreme, haredi. By the way Haredi means Shomer Mitzvot. Why are you using it like a swear word? Whats gotten into the Jewish press?

  5. Anonymous says "I agree its a biased article. ALL that counts is what G-d wants…. what the law is." In other words, What God wants, as interpreted by Rabbis to be the law! What's the difference between that attitude Anonymous, and the Taliban. Seems to me your attitudes leads to the same persecution of anyone who doesn't think like you do – how disgusting !!!!!!

    Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/revolutionary-marriage-reform-law-spells-end-to-haredi-domination/2013/10/29/?replytocom=58648#respond

  6. I've got to points to raise on this article. The author (or is it the editor overriding the author?) states that he won't name the particular locality in order not to blemish its name. Is the author cheer leading or a journalist getting to and vetting a story? It becomes difficult for me to take JP seriously, when it acts like a cheer leader.

    Regarding MK Bennett's comments, if Israel is to open up its religious services market as it were, a follow up would include opening them up to legitimizing marriages performed by Rabbis within the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements.

  7. Jonathan Uziel says:

    Yeh, it's only so-called haredi rabbis who know what's good for jews and good for Israel

  8. Jonathan Uziel says:

    Those kippah srugah and secular dummies!

  9. Jonathan Uziel says:

    If there is a reaction against haredi Judaism, who made it so?

  10. congratulations, may the Lord bless you and your new found bride.

  11. While some local town rabbis have been ridiculous in demands, the new law instead of limiting their exaggerations opens the door for halakhik disaster such as forbidden marriages with mamzerim, mixed marriages with fake conversions etc. The mis-government has again thrown out the baby with the bath water.

  12. While some local town rabbis have been ridiculous in demands, the new law instead of limiting their exaggerations opens the door for halakhik disaster such as forbidden marriages with mamzerim, mixed marriages with fake conversions etc. The mis-government has again thrown out the baby with the bath water.

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