Report: 660,000 Israeli Jews cant marry

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Prohibitions on civil and non-Orthodox weddings in Israel prevent 660,000 Israeli Jews — including 364,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union — from marrying in the Jewish state, according to a nonprofit promoting religious freedom.

The Hiddush report presented to a Knesset conference on “alternatives to marriage through the [Chief] Rabbinate” also noted that 20 percent of weddings registered in Israel took place overseas — a way of circumventing the prohibition on civil or non-Orthodox weddings — and that 70 percent of secular Israelis say they would have non-Orthodox wedding ceremonies if the state permitted them.

In addition to many immigrants, those unable to wed in Israel due to the restrictions include 284,000 gays and lesbians, 13,000 non-Orthodox converts to Judaism and various others, according to Hiddush.

A poll conducted for the organization found that 64 percent of Israeli Jews support “official recognition of all types of marriage,” including same-sex partnerships.

Hiddush reported that only 45 countries in the world, most of them Muslim, have marriage policies as restrictive as Israel’s.  — jta