Marrying Outside The Rabbinate Is A Criminal Offense

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According to laws dating to Ottoman times, Israeli law recognizes marriages performed outside Israel but prohibits Jews from marrying or conducting marriages inside Israel outside the official rabbinate. Two years ago, with the introduction of the Tzohar Law which allows couples to marry at the rabbinate of any town they choose and not only their home towns, it was also legislated that marrying outside the rabbinate was a criminal offense punishable by two years in jail.

MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid’s second attempt to abolish the criminal element of the law and substitute it with a fine was overturned in the Knesset by 32 versus 25. Lavie claimed that the present law “opens a door so that tomorrow the state can jail anyone who won’t go to the mikvah, or who won’t have their sons undergo a bris milah.

As many as two to three percent of the Jewish population are finding rabbis to wed them illegally according to Conservative Rabbi Uri Regev of the Hiddush Religious Freedom and Equality organization. He also claims that all polling indicates that two-thirds of the Israeli public supports the freedom to marry any way one likes.

David Steger – Israel


  1. Who gets the two years – the rabbi or the couple getting married? If the rabbi, what if one rabbi officiates during erusin and one does nesuin, do they both go to jail, do neither of them go to jail (like two people who perform a melacha together) or does only one of them go to jail, and if so, which?


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