The Israeli Knesset has passed a new marriage law which it hopes will disguise the until now openly anti-gentile nature of their prohibition on marriages between Jews and non-Jews.
According to the Israeli National News service, the new law will allow Jews to pick the rabbi of their choosing for the first time, instead of being forced to use state-nominated officiating officers.
According to the official Israeli National News, “passage of the legislation was made possible by the institution of a computer system that will include information on marriages from cities and towns around the country. With the national database, rabbis in all local authorities will have access to information on couples seeking to get married.
“Until now, Israelis who sought to marry needed to register in the community where they lived. If the couples lived in different cities they would register with the Rabbinate of the husband’s home town. Many people have complained that they did not get along with the rabbi in charge of their town, and that they were forced to abide by strictures that were not required by Jewish law, but were stringencies that the rabbi followed as a personal or community custom.
“According to the law, rabbis will be issued a special license to conduct weddings. The license will be granted only after special training. Any rabbi who conducts a wedding without a license to do so will be subject to penalties, including a two year jail sentence.”
The Israeli National News Service quoted Rabbi David Stav, head of the Tzohar group, which was a staunch supporter of the legislation, said that “as someone who helped write the legislation, I congratulate Tzohar for beginning the process of opening up the ‘marriage market,’ a task which will now be carried on by rabbis in all parts of the country. This is a law that has long been needed, and will allow all couples, including and especially secular couples, to get married in a halachically correct manner [i.e. according to Jewish law - ed.].”
The Israeli National News Service stopped its reporting of the law there—but the heavily pro-Zionist Times of Israel provided further insight into the matter, andconfirmed that Jewish law forbids intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews:
“Many Israelis experience as unpleasant the marriage registration process, during which stringent Orthodox rabbis often require that they produce extensive documentation proving their union is not proscribed under Jewish law. Such unions include a marriage between a Jew and non-Jew, and between a kohen (or member of the priestly caste) and a divorcee.
“The bill, which passed in the Knesset by an overwhelming majority, 56-13, Monday evening, will allow Israelis to marry in any rabbinic jurisdiction they desire, enabling them to select towns whose rabbis are more lenient or inclusive than their ultra-Orthodox counterparts.”
The Times of Israel was therefore implying that the new bill was somehow a softening of this ban on mixing with non-Jews, but then went on to let the cat out of the bag this way
“The bill also establishes a new computerized database for marriage registration and conversion, to enable rabbinic registrars in all 60 Israeli registration offices to keep track of applicants.
“But some Israeli supporters of marriage liberalization remained skeptical despite the passage of the law. ‘The law won’t help more than 300,000 immigrants who are defined [under Israeli law] as without religion. It also won’t help Reform and Conservative converts who are recognized as Jews by the state, but not by the rabbinate,’ noted Rabbi Uri Regev, a Reform rabbi and director of Hiddush, a group advocating an end to the Orthodox monopoly in Israel’s state rabbinate.”
While activists argued that the law did not go far enough, Haredi parties argued bitterly against its passage in the plenum debate Monday evening.
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) warned “there will be tragedies” if municipal rabbis marry couples “they don’t know.” Gafni argued that marriage registrars who don’t know the couples being married might accidentally allow a marriage forbidden under Jewish law.
MK Uri Makleb (Shas) said that “the law is meant to weaken the position of rabbis and marriage registrars, to harm our ability to verify marriage eligibility, to hurt Judaism. The real victims will be people who don’t know, who trust you that they’re marrying according to the Law of Moses and Israel, and can’t depend on you that they’re married [according to Jewish law].”