|High Court Orders Israeli Government to Recognize Tel Aviv Civil Marriages|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
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In a precedent-setting decision, which opens the door to civil marriage in Israel, the High Court of Justice ordered the Ministry of Interior to recognize the marriages of 14 Israeli couples married by proxy in the El Salvadorian Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The decision is an important development in the campaign for freedom of marriage in Israel. Currently, there is no civil marriage in Israel and Orthodox rabbis hold a monopoly over Jewish marriage. This means that Israelis who wish to have a civil or non-Orthodox wedding must travel abroad for a marriage that will be legally recognized in Israel. And the lack of civil marriage is especially problematic for the 300,000 Russian-speaking Israeli immigrants – a third of the community – who are not recognized as Jewish by Orthodox law and have no way of legally marrying in Israel.
Said Rabbi Uri Regev, Head of Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality and the former president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, "It is ridiculous that Israeli citizens have to get married by proxy in El Salvador, but the reality depriving hundreds of thousands of Israelis of the right to marry is ridiculous."
In her ruling Judge Ayala Procaccia noted, "In various locations around the world, marriages performed through power of attorney are recognized as legal."Daniel Korenblit, one of the lawyers who represented the 14 couples, most of whom included a Jewish Israeli and non-Jewish immigrant or migrant, stated that the decision opened new marriage options for hundreds of thousands of Israelis. He said, "It is a step forward along the path to civil marriage in Israel."