In the course of a very heated discussion which took place this past Monday in the Knesset Interior Committee regarding MK Shuli Mualem's (Habayit Hayehudi) bill forbidding rabbonim from receiving fees for officiating at weddings, MK Rabbi Uri Maklev clarified that this law "is an invitation to corruption and hypocritical dealings defying the law under the guise of Jewish law. It is yet another tier in the attempts of Habayit Hayehudi's MKs to certify the Tzohar so-called rabbis through the back door by tampering with the institution of marriage registration presently in effect through the religious councils."
Rabbi Maklev explained, "On the one hand, they formulate rules forbidding serving rabbis from accepting fees for officiating at marriage ceremonies, while at the same time there are already not enough employed rabbis arranging kiddushin, especially in light of the creation of new registration centers. Couples who are interested in getting married will, for lack of any other choice, be forced to turn to the Tzohar organization. On the other hand, this bill comes to slander the rabbonim with empty accusations of their charging exorbitant fees for arranging marriages, which is altogether false. This bill has no purpose or effect to upgrade the efficiency of religious services but rather to complicate them further with the aim of strengthening the private body of Tzohar rabbis which does charge outrageous fees illegally."
He further warned, "This discussion is a window [Tzohar] for the corrupt activities carried out in full daylight with the approval of the Tzohar rabbis. Furthermore, now they charge considerably higher fees than do the rabbis of the religious council marriage registration offices, such as asking for exorbitant traveling expenses, which this new bill wishes to outlaw. As the attorney general pointed out in the committee, that the way these fees are approved, without authorization or supervision, is against the law. But they make money through every aspect of the marriage institution and introduce corruption and under-the-table macher dealings. The Tzohar rabbis try to present themselves as the semi-official alternative to the Rabbinate setup of marriage ceremonial, by causing the public to come to them through legislation harming the rabbis of the religious councils in a way that the public will have to accept their illegal activities."
Rabbi Maklev produced a document exposing the nefarious intentions of the Tzohar rabbis in their suggested amendment to the law of marriage officiating being discussed in the committee. He said that "this law strips the power and good will of the Rabbinate rabbis to hold chuppas, in a way that the public will have no recourse but to approach a private body that operates illegally." He added that "the Tzohar organization presents rabbis who are seemingly benevolent but it were better for the public to know that they are operating illegally and in a corrupt way. Pig-like, they present their cloven hoofs as if to say, `We are kosher'."
The representative of the Justice Ministry who was present at the discussion defined the activities of Tzohar as Rabbi Maklev presented it as "forbidden and invalid activities." In light of the arguments presented, the discussion was closed without a reading of the bill until a further investigation of the Tzohar organization and the legality of its activities.