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Three Weddings and a Statement

We love Israel and support equal rights for all to love and marry in Israel.

However, the State of Israel does not recognize marriages performed outside the sanctioned religious authorities (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze). Interfaith and same-sex marriages are illegal in Israel. If you are Jewish, the only way to be legally married is in an Orthodox ceremony performed by an Orthodox rabbi. Interestingly, if a couple could not be legally married in Israel and goes abroad to do so, the State of Israel will recognize their marriage upon their return.

Missed the wedding or want to experience the triple ceremony again? You can watch it here.

You can also check out photos from the event by clicking here.

The Statement

The "Weddings"

With great joy and meaning, Washington Hebrew Congregation and Adas Israel Congregation held a very special event on Tuesday, March 26 welcoming three couples into the covenant of marriage.

These couples could not or would not legally marry in Israel under the auspices of the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate for three very different reasons: one couple is gay, the second couple has one partner that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate does not consider to be Jewish, the third couple rejects the Rabbinate’s rigid control over Jewish marriage.

They would have preferred to marry in their home country. In fact, each has already had a wedding ceremony in Israel, but the government will not recognize their marriages. Much like “commitment ceremonies” that same-sex couples had in the United States before the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, the three couples are married only in their hearts.

Three Weddings and a Statement was presented jointly by Washington Hebrew Congregation and Adas Israel Congregation in partnership with the Israel Religious Action Center, the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.

Generously supported by the Richard & Elizabeth Dubin Family Foundation Heritage Fund

David Astrove and Mindy Strelitz, Co-Chairs, Washington Hebrew Congregation
Toni Bickart and Arnie Podgorsky, Co-Chairs, Adas Israel Congregation

Meet the Couples

In the News

Sponsorships and Support

 
Our Sponsors and Partners  
Our Sponsors and Partners

We are grateful for the individuals, synagogues, organizations, and businesses who have joined us in support of equal rights for all to love and marry in Israel.

Committee  
Committee

"Three Weddings and a Statement" would not be possible without the tireless, creative efforts of our volunteers. We are beyond grateful for your help.

FAQ: The Issue

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What is the issue with marriage in Israel?

In Israel, all Jewish marriages must be performed by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in order to be legally recognized by the State. However, the Rabbinate will not marry interfaith couples, same-sex couples, non-Orthodox converts, many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, people who have been divorced and did not obtain a get from the Orthodox rabbinic court (or did and want to marry a Cohen ), and people who do not want an Orthodox ceremony, among others.

This denies some 800,000 Israeli citizens – and many others who would like to be married in Israel – of the right to marry the person they love. It also alienates many secular and traditional Israeli Jews, making them feel that they are not full citizens in their own country.

 

Do Israelis care about this matter?

Yes, and public support has only grown in recent years. A 2018 Smith Polling Institute survey found that nearly 70% of Israelis want the State of Israel to recognize Reform, Conservative, and civil marriages performed there.

Panim, an association of 60 Israeli nonprofit organizations dedicated to building a society that supports Jewish pluralism, also conducted a study in 2018. It found that more than 2,400 Israeli Jewish couples were married outside Israel in 2017, an 8 percent increase from the previous year. The study reported that most Israelis who married abroad were indeed eligible to marry in Israel under the auspices of the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate – but they chose not to. And it’s not that the couples were turning away from Judaism. In fact, the study said, most of these weddings included traditional Jewish rituals.

 

Are there Israeli organizations and political leaders who support freedom of choice in marriage?

Yes. Dozens of Israeli organizations have voiced their support for religious pluralism, including the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the public and legal advocacy branch of the Reform Movement in Israel; Jewish Pluralism Watch (JPW), the nonpartisan advocacy program of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel; and Hiddush, an organization that promotes religious freedom, diversity, and equality.

 

Is there anything being done about it?

Yes. On April 9, Israel will hold their legislative election, and Israeli citizens have the opportunity to cast their vote for leaders who will amend this historic injustice.

Additionally, advocacy groups such as IRAC and JPW have been advocating to advance religious diversity and freedom of religion in Israel and working to create a broadly inclusive Israeli democracy based on the principles of social justice and equality.

 

I’m not Israeli, but I care about this issue. What can I do?

If you care about pluralism, equality, and freedom to marry the person you love in Israel, sign our online petition, which will be sent to Israel's Prime Minister following their elections on April 9.

Israeli Marriage in the Media

The issue of freedom of marriage in Israel has attracted significant media attention. Here are some recent articles. Check back, as we will continue to add links. 

The Times of Israel article, 2/5/19: "Up to a Third of Israeli Nuptials Held Outside State Religious Bodies"

Tablet Magazine article, 2/5/19: "Battling Israel's Marriage Monopoly"

The Forward article, 1/16/19: "I'm an Orthodox Woman, and the Rabbinate Barred Me From the Mikveh"

Haaretz editorial, 1/9/19: "The Time Has Come for Civil Marriage in Israel"

The Times of Israel blog post, 1/9/19: "Can Religious and Civil Marriage Coexist in Israel?"

Haaretz article, 7/19/18: "Israel Detains Conservative Rabbi for Performing non-Orthodox Weddings"

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