Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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] 28 Adar 5772 - March 22, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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UTJ to Coalition Chairman: Block Tzohar Legislation

By Eliezer Rauchberger

United Torah Judaism has decided to demand that Coalition Chairman MK Zeev Elkin (likud) refrain from bringing the Tzohar Law for a first reading in the Knesset, since it would uproot the status quo and blatantly violate the coalition agreement and the government's fundamental guidelines. The law would allow a couple to register for marriage in any community in Israel they wish, and not be limited to the community of residence of either the chosson and kallah as per current regulations. In the end UTJ managed to remove the law from the agenda of the Knesset, and the winter session was adjourned for Pesach without its passage.

Rabbi Gafni said that if the law was proposed he would ask it to be considered a confidence vote, even though that would make his position as a member of the government coalition awkward. As a result the prime minister asked that it be withdrawn, and it was.

The bill is known as the Tzohar law because its most visible application would be to allow unlimited registration with the rabbi who heads the Tzohar movement who is widely known for his low standards for allowing marriage. Couples who are denied registration in other communities have been registered by him. Critics say that if this is allowed it will lower the general acceptance of the Israeli Rabbinates marriage certificates. The general consensus and the political status quo has been since before the founding of the State that marriage laws which relate to the public and affect everyone are handled by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate using traditional halachic standards.

The House Committee's legal advisor clearly stated that the law should be decided by the Interior Committee, and that transferring it to the Constitutional Committee was done through a deal between Yaakov Margi (Shas) and David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), Gafni said. "We will make every effort to keep the proposal from passing. This law is a disgrace to the Knesset. It is a disgrace to the Knesset and the legislative process. We, too, will uncover other deals in this matter. This is a dirty deal. It is only being advanced because of the Chief Rabbinate Law.

"In the past, even if there were deals, they were concealed. But you have no shame. And we will make a point of reminding you about this all the time. You brought the Knesset down into the gutter."


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