Knesset committee advances marriage bill

A Knesset committee has approved a bill that would allow couples wishing to marry to register with any rabbinate in the country.

The bill, sponsored by the Yisrael Beiteinu party, was approved Dec. 18 by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and advanced to a vote in the full Knesset. The measure must pass three readings before it becomes law.

A Jewish couple must have a religious ceremony in Israel in order to be recognized as married. Jewish couples must register with the rabbinate in the city or region of residence of one member of the couple. Many travel abroad to marry in secular ceremonies.

The legislation comes more than a month after Tzohar, an organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis that performs alternative religious wedding ceremonies for nonreligious couples, was given approval to register couples in the community of Shoham, where the head of the organization serves as chief rabbi.

The new law would be a boon to converts to Judaism, especially those who convert through the Israel Defense Forces, according to the daily newspaper Ha’aretz, because they would be able to register to marry with more moderate Orthodox rabbis who recognize their conversions. — jta