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Elham AbolFateh

Middle East

‘Israel already has civil marriage under the radar’

Sunday 18/March/2018 - 09:42 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by Ahmed Moamar
In a surprise move، religious-Zionist rabbis and movements are joining the call for the institutionalization of civil marriage in Israel، in a bid to solve the halachic problem of common-law marriage. ‘A normal state can’t afford a situation in which 10 to 20 percent of its citizens are unable to get married،' says Tzohar Rabbi David Stav، as Ynet said.
There are 83،000 couples in Israel running a joint household، maintaining an intimate relationship and often raising children together without being joined together in holy matrimony.
The voices calling for the institutionalization of civil marriage in Israel usually come from non-Orthodox organizations and from representatives of immigrants from the former Soviet Union، who have involuntarily found themselves in the heart of the Israel’s “personal status” crisis. But now، a new force is joining the effort—and it comes، surprisingly، from the heart of the religious sector.
The Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah movement is launching a PR campaign in a bid to enlist the religious-Zionist public’s support for the move. Based on a halachic opinion from Rabbanit Nechama Barash، the organization aims to encourage the Religious Zionism movement to reconsider what has been perceived as a real taboo until now.
The religious people behind the move are concerned that the legal option of “common-law marriage،” which is being used by 6 percent of Jewish couples in Israel، is in fact civil marriage below the state’s radar. As this leads to halachic complexities، they would rather see the institutionalization of civil marriage in Israel as an official، recognized path.
“A normal state can’t afford a situation in which 10 to 20 percent of its citizens are unable to marry،” says Rabbi David Stav، head of the Tzohar rabbinical organization.
“A couple may be married in accordance with Jewish law، but it won’t necessarily bother to get divorced in accordance with Jewish law، and that leads to multiple cases of mamzerut (when children are born from forbidden relationships). If there was no religious marriage ceremony، there would less of a problem،” explains Rabbi Ilai Ofran.

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