The rabbinic court in Tel Aviv on Tuesday rejected the request of a Jewish couple to get married in a Jewish wedding according to Jewish law, and ruled that they were converts to Christianity, Ha’aretz reported. The two are Jewish from birth. They applied initially to the local rabbinate at the Shoham local council, asking to be married.
Due to the weight of the issue, the rabbinic court hearing was assigned to a special panel of senior rabbinic judges: Rabbis Rabbi Zvadya Cohen, Ahiezer Amrani, and Tzvi Ben-Yaakov. The judges also invited an expert on Christianity and missionary cults, for a hearing that included the couple.
This was the first time the Rabbinical Court in Israel was required to deal with the halakhic status—for the purpose of being eligible for a rabbinical marriage—of Jews who believe in Jesus.
Apparently, the court viewed differently the core Jewish status of a Jew who converted to another religion (a Jew remains Jewish despite his conversion) and the right of the same converted Jew to partake in the privileges offered by Jewish halakha to Israeli Jews.
The Rabbinical Court ruled that “if the applicants … declare before the court that they are abandoning their Christian faith entirely, including belonging to the Messianic Jewish community and [its] missionary activities, the Court will reconsider their case.”
The ruling rested in part on Israel’s Supreme Court rulings on Messianic Jews who wished to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which defines a Jew as “a person who was born to a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism, and he is not of another religion.”
Despite the fact that they are Jews, the Supreme Court ruled that they are not allowed to immigrate to Israel since the Law of Return demands that an immigrant not belong to a different religion to be accepted as a Jew – despite the contradictory view of the matter.