Israeli Courts to Recognize Civil Marriages Conducted Online

Israeli couples who marry in civil ceremonies conducted remotely through a Zoom channel run by the U.S. state of Utah can register their marriages legally following a successful appeal

Yael Freidson
Yael Freidson
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A Jewish wedding (illustrative).
A Jewish wedding (illustrative).Credit: Dreamstime
Yael Freidson
Yael Freidson

The Jerusalem Court for Administrative Affairs ruled Thursday that Israel must legally recognize eight couples who were wed online via Zoom in a major step towards advancing civil marriage in the country.

The decision arrived after an appeal was filed by 'Hiddush': Organization for Religious Freedom and Equality on the so-called "Utah marriages"— civil wedding ceremonies officiated online remotely by a marriage registrar from the U.S. state of Utah.

Several Israeli couples were able to wed remotely through this process and circumvent Israel's marriage law, which only recognizes ceremonies performed in the state if they are held under the auspices of the religious community to which the couple belongs.

As Israel recognizes civil marriages if the ceremony is performed in a foreign country, lower-level Population Authority officials had decided to approve the remotely-officiated "Utah marriages."

Eight couples who wed in this fashion initially had their marriages revoked by the Population Authority following an order by former Interior Minister Arye Dery, prompting Hiddush to launch an appeal on their behalf.

The appeal was also launched on behalf of Rabbi Spector and Rabbi Levinski, the reform rabbis from Utah who performed the online ceremonies via Zoom for Israeli couples.

Recently, the Religious Services Minister, Matan Kahana supported a proposal tabled by legislator Sharren Haskel from the secular-right New Hope party, calling for a deal that would allow Israeli couples to get married in foreign consulates within Israel, in exchange for a restriction of eligibility criteria in the Law of Return. The proposal has not progressed far due to the collapse of the government and the upcoming elections.

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