On a Day of Celebration, Central Conference of American Rabbis Calls for Marriage Equality in Israel

December 3, 2017 – 14 Kislev 5778

The Central Conference of American Rabbis wishes a hearty mazal tov to Gabi Geberovich & Alon Selav, Alona Livne & Ori Berwald, and Elizabeth Komkov & Valentine Voldovskiy, who were married today at Temple Emanu-El in New York City. We extend our best wishes to our colleagues who are officiating: Rabbi Rachel Ain, Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchwald, Rabbi Elliott Cosgrove, Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, and Rabbi Noa Sattath.

These weddings are joyous occasions – for the couples, for their families and friends, for the Jewish people, and for the officiating rabbis. All who are participating are responding to the words of our wedding liturgy: “Serve the Eternal with gladness; come into God’s presence rejoicing” (Psalm 100:2).

Amidst the joy, though, is sadness and righteous indignation. These couples are marrying as they wish, but not where they wish – at home, in the Jewish homeland, in the State of Israel. Sadly and unjustly, marriage for Jews in Israel is controlled exclusively by Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate. Reform and Conservative rabbis are not authorized to officiate at legally-recognized marriages in Israel, where civil marriage does not exist.

Two of today’s wedding couples could not marry through Israel’s Chief Rabbinate even if they wished to do so, one being a same-sex couple and the second because one partner’s Jewish status is questioned by Israeli ultra-Orthodox authorities. The third couple could marry in Israel. However, like countless other Israeli couples, they prefer an egalitarian wedding ceremony in accordance with their preferred expression of Judaism. Unlike these three couples today, whose marriages will be recognized and registered by the Israeli government when they return home, many Israeli couples today are choosing to celebrate with Reform, Conservative, or non-religious weddings in Israel with no legal recognition whatsoever. Others fly abroad for a pro-forma civil ceremony legally recognized back home.

In celebrating these marriages today, Reform Rabbis in North America and around the world applauds and supports the Israel Religious Action Center, led by Anat Hoffman and Rabbi Noa Sattath, which continues to pressure the Israeli government and courts to enact marriage equality in Israel. We join in demanding full religious equality for all in our beloved Jewish State.

Rabbi David E. Stern                    Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                                       Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis