Masorti Wedding Ad Angers Chief Rabbinate


harei-atThe Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s general attorney Shimon Ullman sent a letter to the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) on Tuesday urging it to take off the air or revise a radio ad produced by the Israel Masorti Movement. Ullman claimed that the commercial, which encourages couples to consider marrying in a Conservative ceremony, rather than an Orthodox one, is fraudulent and deceitful, because it fails to note that a Conservative wedding is not recognized by the state’s authorities.In his letter to IBA, Ullman referred to the Masorti Movement as “an organization that undermines official state institutions.”

Rabbi Sandra Kochmann, who is in charge of the Masorti Movement’s wedding initiative, said upon the launching of the campaign that “Israelis are simply fed up with the ongoing chain of abuse that the Rabbinate forces on couples seeking to get married.

“This is the worst kind of monopoly, the kind that produces corruption and lack of understanding towards the applicants.”

‘Rabbinate won’t give up on position of strength’
In a conversation with Ynet on Tuesday, a spokesman for the movement said that the Rabbinate’s claims were “absurd,” since the commercial itself stressed that the movement was not affiliated with the Orthodox establishment.

He added that the movement makes it clear to all marriage applicants that the Masorti ceremony is not recognized by the state, and recommends that couples also hold a civil wedding abroad, so that they can register with the Interior Ministry.

“The fact that the Chief Rabbinate opposes to weddings held by the Masorti Movement is not a new thing. It holds the monopoly on weddings, divorces, conversions and burials and has no intention to give up such a strong position of strength and a turnover of millions of shekels,” he added.

Rabbi Andrew Sacks, director of the Masorti Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly and Religious Affairs Bureau, added: “In a democratic state, it’s inconceivable that an establishment run according to a medieval worldview dictate to the citizens of the country how to marry and what should be aired on radio commercials.

“We respect those who prefer to wed through the Rabbinate, but the new government is obligated to amend the law and enable free, liberal choice instead of continuing the religious coercion.”

The IBA said in response that the ad “has been approved for broadcasting in accordance with IBA regulations.”

{Yair Israel/Ynet}