Rabbi Offers Unorthodox Solution to Civil Marriage Debate

Rabbi David Stav proposes couples be allowed to register for marriage at Chief Rabbinate office of their choice.

A national-religious rabbi frustrated with the impasse in talks on easing Israeli marriage procedures is advocating an unorthodox solution: competition. Rabbi David Stav proposed Tuesday that couples be allowed to register to get married at any Chief Rabbinate office they please, as opposed to being required to sign up at their municipal branch.

Speaking at a conference on Judaism at Kfar Blum in the Upper Galilee, Stav said opening up marriage registration would create competition and ease cumbersome procedures for couples seeking to wed.

"Nowadays any marriage registrar in some nowhere place in Israel can drive a couple crazy with demands," Stav said.

In Israel, the Chief Rabbinate holds the monopoly over marriages, which has drawn criticism from groups that want to see civil marriages allowed. While Stav makes clear that the Chief Rabbinate retains the monopoly over marriage in Israel, he says his proposal is an attempt to reach out to couples who have encountered difficulties.

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller is thus drawing up a bill that would permit couples to register at any Chief Rabbinate branch. "The top rabbinate establishment sees this proposal favorably," he said.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Ariel Picard of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem offered his own solution to the deadlock on marriages. Picard proposed having marriages be carried out according to traditions associated with Noah in halakhic texts. Such partnerships, he says, would offer an alternative to partners who aren't recognized as Jews.