A Love Boat for Israelis? Anat Hoffman Seeks Cruise Ship for Extraterritorial Weddings

Women of the Wall chairwoman looking to bypass Israeli law, which currently doesn't allow non-Orthodox Jewish unions.

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An illustration of a bride and groom on a boat.
An illustration of a bride and groom on a boat.Credit: Dreamstime

All aboard! Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, has an out-of-the-box proposal: A Jewish love boat for Israelis who can’t or don’t wish to be married under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.

 “I am seeking a large used ship, a captain, and a few willing rabbis to launch a love boat that will travel in and out of Israeli territorial waters to perform marriage ceremonies, Hoffman said, at the end of an article written for the Israel Religious Action Center.

The cruises to an egalitarian marriage would be relevant and useful “until our law passes in Knesset,” she wrote. By “our law,” Hoffman, the executive director of IRAC, was referring to several marriage bills that IRAC has supported in the Knesset “in an effort to permit Israeli couples to marry outside of the religious establishments.”

The piece described Hoffman’s son Ariel's official wedding, because, like many Israelis, he and his wife got married in Cyprus so that they could have a non-Orthodox Jewish wedding that would still have legal standing in Israel.

His marriage is a familiar ritual for many secular Israelis. They do it both out of choice, or because they are among the thousands of Israelis who the rabbinate refuses to marry because they aren’t recognized as Jews, and they have no civil marriage option and so are unable to legally marry.

“This situation is unparalleled in any other democratic country,” Hoffman wrote. “Over 20,000 Israeli couples get married outside of Israel every year. On their flight to Cyprus, Ariel and his wife observed that the plane was filled with Israelis who were also going there for a civil marriage. The Israelis waited in line together, took photos of one-another, and sat together at a nearby Haagen-Dazs for celebratory ice cream afterwards.” 

An easy (but simplified!) guide to intermarriage in Israel.Credit: Haaretz