Non-Orthodox Marriage and Divorce in Israel

Resolution Adopted by the CCAR


Adopted by the 117th Annual Convention

of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

San Diego, CA

June, 2006


In August 1953, the Knesset passed legislation granting the Orthodox establishment rabbinate monopolistic jurisdiction and control over matters related to the marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel. Current law, which excludes the option of civil marriage, results in many thousands of Israeli citizens being forced to marry abroad each year, either as a matter of conscience, or because Israel does not offer them any framework to marry within their own country. Not only does the present situation deny a basic human right but it also discriminates against Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews and their religious leaders.

Given the large number of immigrants from the former USSR, who cannot prove their Jewish status to the satisfaction of the Orthodox religious authorities, over 300,000 citizens of the State of Israel are now denied the basic, democratic human right to marry in their own country.

Repeated surveys show that the majority of Israelis favor breaking the Orthodox stranglehold over marriage and divorce. Nevertheless, attempts to date to introduce legislation to change the status quo have failed, primarily as a result of opposition from the Orthodox religious establishment and its political representatives.

Therefore, be it resolved that the CCAR calls upon the Knesset of the State of Israel to pass legislation granting full and equal rights to all of Israel’s citizens in matters of marriage and divorce, thereby ensuring that all be freely able to marry in their own country, and in accord with their conscience and religious sensibilities , irrespective of their religious beliefs and identity or lack of them.