web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Untying the Knot

US Jewish Women’s Council Wants Israel to Certify Civil Marriages

Do Israeli orthodox rabbis have a “monopoly?” Should Diaspora Jews try to pull Israel’s domestic strings? The National Council of Jewish Women seems to say “yes” to both questions.
Marriage in the Jewish community

Marriage in the Jewish community
Photo Credit: Shay Levy/Flash 90

The National Council of Jewish Women called on the Jewish state to create a system of civil marriage and divorce in what was seen as a landmark move.

“The monopoly of authority given to Orthodox rabbinical courts in Israel regarding issues of personal status, particularly marriage, weakens rather than strengthens the state itself by causing disunity, disrespect for the law, and even hostility among Israelis and between Israel and Jews abroad,” according to a statement released Monday by the NCJW board of directors.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movements Religious Action Center, said it was the first time a mainstream U.S. Jewish group joined non-Orthodox groups in making such a call.

“What’s important to me is that an organization beyond the religious streams is beginning to call for that,” he told JTA. “That’s an important step forward. I deeply commend the NCJW for doing so and ask all Jewish organizations to join the fight for freedom of marriage.”

The women’s group cited “democratic values and civil liberties” as two reasons Israel should grant its wishes. It also claimed that the lack of civil marriages forces “thousands of Israeli couples every year to leave Israel for a civil marriage abroad” and alienates “approximately 350,000 Israeli citizens from the former Soviet Union” who are not considered Jewish according to halacha.”

Civil marriages may or may not be suitable for Israel, which has a major problem coming up with a solution to heart-wrenching situations, such as that of divorced Kohenim. And even the predominantly orthodox Jewish Home party backed its non-secular Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked for coming out in support of civil marriages.

But the use of the terms “monopoly” and “civil liberties” is a populist tool to undermine the power of the Israeli Rabbinate, and the complicated issue of civil marriages is not addressed except as a matter of “democracy.”

It indeed could be said that orthodox rabbis have a monopoly in Israel. It also can be said that the American Medical Association has a monopoly on who can practice medicine and the Bar Association can decide who can practice law.

Would you call someone who has learned alternative medicine – and skips over six years of medical school – a doctor? If you change the definition of “doctor,” the answer is “yes.”

And what if someone wants to become a Reform rabbi?

Well, it seems that the evil “monopoly” also applies to the Reform movement.

Do you want to become a Reform rabbi? There are several small seminaries whose rabbis claim to be Reform, but if you want to be accepted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), you have to play by their rules.

One of  Judaism’s rules is “Who is a Jew?”,  an issue that has sharply divided Reform and Orthodox Jewry.

The Women’s Council is very concerned for Israelis from the Soviet Union who are not recognized as Jews.

But why?

Many of those “Jews” are not even Jews by the most liberal of standards. Under the government of Ariel Sharon, tens of thousands of people, and probably closer to 300,000, were allowed to make aliyah even though neither of their parents was Jewish. And it is questionable whether they want to be Jewish, unless it does not require any commitment to anything.

The question remains whether the National Council of Jewish Women’s declaration is a move for the sake of Israeli Jewry or for the sake of destroying centuries-old acceptance of developing Jewish in orthodox Judaism.

To the NCJW’s credit, its opinions, even if politically oriented, are no less important than anyone else’s and serve as part of the verbal warfare that has been part and parcel of Jewish thought, as evidenced in the Talmud.

Raising the issue could add pressure on the Israeli Rabbinate to address the issue of civil marriages, and that in itself may strengthen the orthodox “monopoly” in Israel.

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.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

6 Responses to “US Jewish Women’s Council Wants Israel to Certify Civil Marriages”

  1. Yohanon Glenn says:

    This is an issue for Israelis in Israel, NOT for non-Israelis or Israelis outside Israel.
    Jews may opt for “civil” marriage in many places (US, Cyprus, etc.) but Jews in Israel seem – by an large – not to have a problem with “religious” weddings. In any event, there ARE civil marriages in Israel – some lawyers perform the ceremony.

  2. Dan Silagi says:

    If it were up to me, there'd be two types of marriage, civil and religious. Civil marriage would be the only type recognized legally, and would be comprise any legal union between two consenting adults.

    If the orthodox don't want to consider a marriage between a Jew and a Christian, or between members of the same sex as legitimate, they would have the right to their opinion. But no more than that.

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    If you want to dictate policy to others, move there and become a citizen. Then you will be making a point.

  4. Dan Silagi says:

    Alan, because I prefer living in a free country where the religious rights of all are Constitutionally (and in practice) guaranteed.

  5. Grace Acosta says:

    Americans should stay out of Israeli policies – and I'm saying this as a Jewish, American woman. If you want to complain, make aliyah!

  6. Alice Lemos says:

    This'Jewish Women's Council" also supports abortion on demand. They are shameless and know very little about Judaism. There is nothing "Jewish" about them.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest News Stories
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.

Israeli military is watching the northern border closely, waiting for the day the “changes” arrive. Rebels already control Syria’s side of the fence.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Jan. 20, 2014.

Canada will strip citizenship from those who travel abroad to join ISIS or other terrorist groups.

rayer vigil at Ma'arat HaMachpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron.

An Arab media outlet appears to be having issues with the closure of the Cave of the Patriarchs to Muslims over Rosh Hashana.

One of the photos displaying wares for sale on the Baqiyah Creation page on Facebook. Sept. 20, 2014.

The days of the red cape and Superman are long gone. Now one surfs the Net and buys ISIS chotchkes to become Jihad John.

Nearly 70 years after the Nazis fell, evidence is found in Theresienstadt that life flourished even among those marked for death.

There are IDF officers whose job is to oversee all operations and endeavor to ensure the civilian population is protected.

The Cabinet has approved a massive infrastructure upgrade of Sderot and other southern Israeli communities.

Yemen, where the ‘Arab Spring’ begun, continues to be mired in turmoil and terror.

Cease-fire negotiations in Cairo between Israel and Gaza terrorist factions are being held Tuesday in deference to Rosh Hashana.

President Reuven Rivlin is set to inaugurate the Jewish Museum of Warsaw when he travels to Poland in October.

Angry parents spoke out Sunday against Arabs attacking their children on the Mount of Olives.

Only 30 % of European Jews will attend high holiday services; 1/4 fear wearing Jewish symbols.

It’s not monopoly money. It’s Israel’s new 50 Shekel bill (in the middle), with a picture of poet Shaul Tchernikovsky on it. The bill is said to feature some of the most advanced anti-counterfeiting technologies, and it just went into circulation.

S&P has confirmed that Israel’s credit rating is good, and we’re still on the right fiscal path.

Gush Etzion residents were surprised and angry when the issue of the fence was raised from the dead.

The exact location is secret because of safety concerns. How long before the PA claims it is theirs?

More Articles from Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
A  new discovery of an ancient stalactite cave has revealed fascinating colors and shapes.

The exact location is secret because of safety concerns. How long before the PA claims it is theirs?

President Ruby Rivlin greets new Olim as they step off the plane.

Israel wellomed 24,801 new immigrants this past year. Another 6-8 million did not make it – yet.

Benign neglect could be setting up Jews in eastern Jerusalem for “Gush Katif No. 2”

A good Jewish boy has a Bar Mitzvah at 13. A good Muslim fanatic joins the ISIS.

Mainstream media report “all the news to print that fits” the anti-Israeli agenda.

Arsonists set fire to a Brussels synagogue on Tuesday, that was previously firebombed in 2010, but Jewish officials are not ready to declare the incident as anti-Semitic. The wife and two children of the synagogue’s caretaker, who was not present at the time of the arson, suffered slight smoke inhalation after the fire broke out […]

The higher rate is good news for Israelis with dollar accounts and for U.S. tourists.

“Jewish teams’ are more proud to win than proud to be Jewish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-jewish-womens-council-wants-israel-to-certify-civil-marriages/2013/04/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: