Vote on Marriage Bill Postponed

Fearing coalition crisis, Yisrael Beitenu backs down for now.

The Knesset postponed a preliminary vote scheduled for yesterday on a bill that would allow Jewish couples to register for marriage with any rabbinate bureau in the country, irrespective of where they live. Yisrael Beiteinu put off the vote so as to avoid a possible coalition crisis.

If the law passes, it would make registering for marriage easier, particularly for converts. For instance, soldiers who converted through the Israel Defense Forces rabbinate - in a conversion procedure that has been questioned and rejected by some top religious authorities - would be able to register to be married by moderate rabbinical authorities who accept them as Jews.

Under the current system, a couple that wishes to wed can only register at the rabbinate bureau in the region specified on the ID card of the bride or groom as his or her birthplace.

Yisrael Beiteinu sponsored the law and intended on bringing it to a vote yesterday, even though the cabinet has yet to reach a decision on the matter.

MK Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu), who initiated the law, told the Knesset plenum she had decided to postpone the vote since "the coalition promised me to gather the required majority at the next meeting of the Ministerial Committee [on Legislation]. If [the law] is not approved, I will bring it to to a preliminary reading in two weeks even without cabinet support," she said.

The explanatory notes to the law say that the requirement that a couple register at a branch of the rabbinate in the area in which they live used to be logical when the city rabbi knew the residents of his city. But today when the rabbis of large cities no longer know their constituents, and many no longer live at the addresses listed on their identity cards, it is just as appropriate for couples to register wherever they like - near their place of study, work, or home.