Meet Valentine and Elizabetha.
They were both born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. They first met in the Jewish Agency Sunday School and then they both moved to Israel. They reconnected on Facebook. Five years ago, they started to chat nearly every day, and then they decided to meet. They have been inseparable since. Valentine is currently working as an electrical-engineer at Intel and Elizabetha is in an academic preparatory course at the Technion in Haifa. They are members of Shirat Ha-Yam congregation in Haifa.
Valentine and Elizabetha cannot get married in Israel because Elizabetha is a Reform convert and not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate as Jewish. She finished her conversion process just last month. She chose to convert through the Reform movement because of our shared values.
Elizabetha, and many other immigrants – especially from Russia, can make Aliyah under the Right of Return because they have one Jewish parent, but they are not listed in the population registry as ‘Jews’ and thus cannot marry in legally in Israel. Elizabetha converted in the Reform movement in Israel, as do many other immigrants, but even this does not compel the state or the Chief Rabbinate to recognize their Jewish identity.
On December 3, IRAC and Temple Emanu-El of New York City, are going to give Valentine and Elizabetha the wedding of their dreams and at the same time make the political statement that there is more than one way to be Jewish and we must all be accepted in the Jewish homeland. The ultra-Orthodox monopoly over personal status in Israel must end.
We hope that you will join us at Temple Emanu-El for Three Weddings and a Statement, our event celebrating the marriages of three couples who cannot or choose not to get married through the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in Israel.