Prior to the signing of the agreement with Tzohar several days ago, the Chief Rabbinate limited the authority of rabbis to perform weddings.
A formal agreement has been signed between the Tzohar organization of moderate religious Zionist rabbis and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger to greatly increase the number of rabbis who can perform weddings. In the process, it substantially enhances the status of Modern Orthodox rabbis.
The agreement includes a provision allowing some Orthodox rabbis who have no official position on religious councils as well as the heads of hesder yeshivas (where students combine religious study with military service ) and rabbis from other Orthodox educational institutions to perform weddings anywhere in Israel.
Prior to the signing of the agreement with Tzohar several days ago, the Chief Rabbinate limited the authority of rabbis to perform weddings, confining a rabbi from a particular neighborhood to performing marriages only in his particular area. And up to now the heads of yeshivas have only been authorized to perform weddings involving their own students.
With this agreement, Tzohar has chalked up a second achievement over the past month for their organization. About three weeks ago the Knesset gave initial approval, on first reading, to a proposed law that would completely eliminate the individual districts in which those seeking to get married currently have to register. Rather than going to their local rabbinate, prospective couples would be able to pursue the marriage registration procedure through Tzohar, which is similar to ultra-Orthodox practice, in which less restrictive marriage procedure applies.
“The agreement opens a new chapter in the relationship with religious Zionism in general and Tzohar in particular,” said the head of Tzohar, Rabbi David Stav, who said the pact would bring Jews from all segments of society closer to Jewish tradition.
There is no civil marriage between two Jews in Israel and only Orthodox rabbis are authorized to perform weddings here, but weddings by non-Orthodox rabbis performed abroad as well as civil marriages performed outside of Israel are recognized by the Interior Ministry.
The agreement between the Chief Rabbinate and Tzohar follows the filing of a petition with the High Court of Justice by a law student who sought to broaden the authority of Orthodox rabbis to perform weddings.
The State Prosecutor’s Office indicated that it could not defend the previous discriminatory criteria that had been used by the Chief Rabbinate.