My son Ariel and his girlfriend Michal announced their engagement last week. They do not want to be married by the Rabbinate, so like too many Israelis they will purchase two tickets to Cyprus and get a civil marriage at the Nicosia municipal hall. Upon their return we will hold a wedding here in Israel officiated by a Reform Rabbi, which, unlike their marriage in Cyprus, will not be recognized by the Israeli State.
As a mother and as a leader in the Reform Movement, I am fed up with this situation. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness that it is time to assert the right of all Israelis who live their life here to also get married here.
Lin Dror and her fiancé, members of a Reform synagogue in Mod’iin, have decided that they do not want to leave their country to marry. Next Thursday, March 21, 2013, they will marry on the steps of the Knesset in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon from Kehilat Yozma, and Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ).
When I asked Lin why she was taking this step to marry at the Knesset with Reform rabbis, her reasoning was clear. She said that she had grown up in the Movement. As a member of Kehilat Yozma, Kinneret Shiryon is her rabbi and she does not want this important moment in her life to be shared with a rabbi she doesn’t know and who doesn’t mean anything to her. She is a Reform Jew and she feels it is her choice and her right to be married in her own country in a way that is meaningful to her.
IRAC and the IMPJ have been fighting for years to change the status quo on marriage and divorce. At every turn, we are blocked by governments who refuse to engage in serious debate on this issue. We have no choice but to place this issue at their feet and force them to see how their political intransigence is affecting the lives of so many Israelis.
Prime Minster Netanyahu is likely to announce his new government this week. There is still time to tell him how important it is that religious life in Israel be open and pluralistic. Please click here to write the Prime Minister and tell him that it is time to end the current situation in which Israelis need to leave their country in order to marry in a manner that is meaningful to them. Couples such as my son and Michal, and Lin and her partner, should be able to have their union sanctified in the way that means the most to them in their own community, the Israeli Reform community.
Executive Director, IRAC
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