In spite of the vehement objection of the UTJ representatives who tried their very utmost to convince and prevent the passing of the law, this Monday the Knesset plenum approved for the second and third reading the devastating, outrageous law which will be remembered in infamy in the annals of Jewish history. The bill was presented by the Habayis Hayehudi party to establish independent centers for registering marriages in Israel.
This horrendous law, approved only following a very stormy debate, establishes that one can be registered for marriage by any rabbi officially appointed for marriage registration, regardless of place of residence or site of the actual ceremony, as opposed to the former legal procedure. Up until now couples were required to apply to the rabbinate office where at least one of them lived. A local rabbinate office is in the best position to discover any issues that may affect the eligibility of someone to marry. The previous situation also meant that marriage would be under the full control of the official rabbinate.
This law does not require the transfer of information from one registrar to another so that whoever encounters a problem regarding his authentic Jewishness etc. can go to any place he chooses and will not be interrogated about his Jewish status, even if it is problematic through a halachic psul. In addition, every marriage registrar can open up an office wherever he wishes, in any city or town, and officially register all marriages there. Proponents of the law pointed out that the new law establishes a national computer registry with information about marriage eligibility that will be accessible all over.
This bill succeeded in being approved in its first reading in the last Knesset term but did not get to its second and third reading. Now, with the support of the present government, headed by the members of Habayit Hayehudi, the bill was speeded along through the Knesset legislative committee and on Monday, passed its final reading in the Knesset plenum. The only dissenting votes were from UTJ and Shas.
It should be noted that the Chief Rabbinate Council expressed outspoken objection to the law and demanded that the Knesset and the government desist from passing it.