The 14 Words

Friday, 11 October 2013

Israel’s “Jews-Only” Marriage Laws Explained

It is one of the most commonly-used tricks of Jewish Supremacists to deny that Israel has racially-based marriage laws—but the full and final truth has finally emerged from an organization within Israel itself.


The “Freedom of Marriage World Map” is an annual report produced by the Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel organization that examines and compares the status of freedom of marriage around the world.

According to that organization, the “main and original purpose of the map was to investigate Israel’s standing on freedom of marriage in comparison to world standards.”

The conclusion of that organization is that Israel “ranks among some of the most fundamentalist countries in the Islamic world on this issue.”

Hiddush has the following to say about Israel’s marriage laws:
  • Only recognized religious marriage ceremonies are allowed.
  • For Jews, only weddings that are held according to strict Orthodox standards are accepted.
  • There is no option for civil marriage or interfaith marriage.
  • 300,000 citizens are defined as ‘without religion’ and they are unable to get married in the country.
  • Israeli law permits only religious marriages held by religious testimony, and does not allow civil marriages.
  • Among the Jewish population, the Chief Rabbinate, which operates according to Orthodox Jewish standards, has a monopoly over marriage.
  • Only those who are recognized as Jews according to Orthodox Jewish law can get married in Israel.
  • Members of other religions can only marry spouses of the same religion and only by their own recognized religious authority.
  • The result is that no interfaith or non-religious marriages are allowed.
  • The Law of Return which allows up to second generation descendants of Jews and their spouses to immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship, but prevents them from getting married.
  • This also applies to individuals whose fathers or grandfathers are Jewish but their mother or grandmother is not. They are excluded due to Orthodox Jewish law which stipulates that Judaism is determined by the mother.
  • There are also individuals who are Jewish according to Orthodox law, but who lose their marriage rights in certain circumstances.
  • Those defined by the rabbinical authorities as illegitimate (born to a women who conceived a child with a man who is not her husband) are considered ineligible for marriage.
  • Divorced women are not allowed to marry men who carry any of the traditional “Cohen” family names (denoting families who are considered to be the direct descendants of the ancient Israelite priests and who, by law, are forbidden from marrying divorcees and converts).
  • The State of Israel only recognizes Jewish marriages that are officiated by recognized Orthodox rabbis.
  • Marriages conducted by rabbis of any other Jewish affiliation (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal) are not recognized.
  • The Law of Return recognizes converts who converted in a non-Orthodox ceremony. They are allowed to receive Israeli citizenship, but the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize them as Jews and does not consider them eligible for Jewish marriage.
  • This creates a situation in which converts who joined Judaism through progressive movements and in some cases, Orthodox converts who converted by moderate Orthodox rabbis, cannot get married in Israel.
  • Due to Israeli Supreme Court rulings from the 1960s, the Ministry of Interior registers and accepts civil marriages held abroad.
  • The question of the validity of civil marriages that were held abroad has yet to be decided in Israel, and there are many contradicting opinions and rulings on this matter.
  • Israel was the only Western country that received a grade of “0” by the Hiddush ranking, putting it in the company of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan with regard to marriage laws.

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