Support Civil Marriage in Israel

Jews by choice who convert in the Diaspora and make aliyah may not marry in Israel unless they undergo an Orthodox or Haredi conversion.

Sara is an Israeli immigrant who was adopted in California at birth, underwent a Conservative conversion as an infant and was raised Jewish. When Sara and her Israeli beloved prepared to marry in Israel, they soon learned that this was easier said than done. Click here to read Sara and Tzachi’s story and click here to read about Tzachi’s concerns that his children won’t be able to marry in Israel unless the law changes by the time they grow up.

Click here to read the Jerusalem Post article by attorney Susan Weiss whose client, a haredit convert, had her case dismissed by the Israeli Supreme Court on December 17, 2014. The convert’s husband used the threat of having his wife’s conversion revoked by a special rabbinic court–on a technicality such as her failure to immerse in the mikveh at certain appropriate times–in order to prevent her from terminating their failed marriage. When the convert did not succumb to her husband’s threat, he used the threat to gain a financial upper hand in their divorce proceeding. If the decision to dismiss the wife’s appeal is upheld upon further appeal to the Supreme Court, Haredi and Orthodox converts living in Israel may be at risk for extortion and threats for their entire lives.

If a haredi convert has recently immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return and loses the status of being a Jew during a special rabbinic court proceeding, the convert could be at risk for losing the right to remain in Israel. The December 27, 2014 Supreme Court ruling is of concern for many reasons. One of those reasons is because a non-Orthodox person who undergoes Orthodox conversion and is later reported for not living a fully Orthodox life may also be at risk in terms of their marriage.

Please join us in calling upon the Israeli government to institute civil marriage to allow rabbis of all denominations to solemnize marriage in Israel in the same way that we solemnize marriage in North America, namely, with a Jewish ceremony and ketubah together with a civil marriage license. Israeli civil marriage would allow all Israeli Jews–including those born in Israel and new immigrants, and including Jews by birth and Jews by choice–to marry in Israel and have their marriage recognized by the denomination of their choice.

Civil marriage would also allow clergy of other faiths to perform marriages for couples of their particular faith. In addition, civil marriage would allow Israelis to have civil marriage ceremonies without an accompanying Jewish ceremony. While this may be new on Israeli soil, many Israelis are already marrying in civil ceremonies in Cyprus and elsewhere because they are not allowed to have the Jewish marriage of their choice in Israel.