Israeli Knesset Bill Offers Tax Benefits for Marriage Prep Course

Courses are intended to help people deal with domestic violence and identify groups that might be at risk.

A woman places a wedding ring on her fiance's finger during a mass wedding ceremony, August 19, 2016.
Reuters / Jaime Saldarriaga

A bill granting tax breaks to couples who take a marriage preparation course is slated to come up before the Ministerial Legislation Committee on Sunday.

The bill, sponsored by MK Yehudah Glick (Likud), calls for courses to prepare couples for married life and guide them on matters of communication and other challenges. It is intended, among other things, to help people deal with domestic violence and identify groups that might be at risk.

MKs Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) and Bezalel Smotrich and Shuli Moalem (Habayit Hayehudi) joined Glick in sponsoring the bill, which was initiated by the Tzohar rabbinical organization.

Under the bill, newlyweds and couples planning to marry who take the course will be eligible to half a credit point in income tax, an exemption from marriage registration fees and course expenses. The assumption is that the courses, which the state will provide, will save the state money that is currently spent on family courts and dealing with domestic violence and at-risk children.

“Domestic violence is usually dealt with after the act, when the problem has already taken root and is sometimes irrevocable,” the proposal states. “On the other hand, very little emphasis is placed on prevention, such as preparation for married life, finding people at risk and intervening in the first steps of married life.”

The proposal cites the “erosion” of the Jewish family’s fortitude as a leading cause of the rising divorce rate.

“The Jewish family has constituted throughout the ages a source of fortitude for its members and for the Jewish people. The family’s fortitude has eroded consistently in recent years. This is reflected first and foremost in the rising divorce rate. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of divorce cases has tripled since the ‘70s compared to the number of marrying couples,” the proposal says.