154 Israeli couples tie knot in Cyprus

Scores of Israeli couples — most of them Russian speakers — exchanged wedding vows June 17 in Larnaca, Cyprus, in a mass civil ceremony. Organizers said 154 couples took part.

“We came up with the idea because we wanted it to be something special,” said organizer Natan Uretsky, an Israeli tour operator who specializes in civil weddings outside of Israel.

Religious authorities in Israel don’t perform interfaith weddings, although the country recognizes civil weddings conducted abroad.

Shortly after the mass wedding, the Jerusalem Post wrote an editorial headlined “Israel must grant all citizens the right to civil marriage.”

Michael Lantsman, 32, said he and his 28-year-old bride chose to get hitched in the mass Cyprus ceremony because they are not religious and they wanted to avoid the “bureaucracy” involved with a religious wedding in Israel.

Uretsky said about 1,000 Israeli couples tie the knot in civil ceremonies in Cyprus each year. For this event, a cruise ship ferried the couples from Haifa to Cyprus for a two-day stay that included the ceremony and parties. — ap