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(RNS) — One spouse is not considered Jewish by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. Another couple is gay. And the third couple wants a Reform Jewish wedding.
All three Israeli couples will be jointly wed this week at a Reform temple in Washington, D.C. in a protest against the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate that controls all Jewish weddings in Israel.
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The so-called “Three Weddings and a Statement,” to be held at the Washington Hebrew Congregation on Tuesday (March 26), is intended to call attention to the rabbinate’s stranglehold on marriage in Israel. There is no civil marriage in Israel and no option for couples to marry through Reform, Conservative or other branches of Jewish religious life.
The timing of the ceremony, on the last day of the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is intentional. More than 18,000 Israel supporters, including Vice President Mike Pence and Benny Gantz, a leading candidate for prime minister in Israel’s April 9 election, will speak at the D.C. conference.
Couples - Supporters - Politicians - Media - Groups
The couples and their supporters hope Israeli politicians, media groups and Israel allies at the conference will pay attention to their concerns. Civil marriage has become a political issue for Israel’s more liberal political parties, and polls show the majority of Israelis want alternatives to marriage through the Chief Rabbinate.
“We love Israel,” said M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and one of six clergy officiating at the joint ceremony. “We’re not saying the rabbinate should go out of business, but rather there should be freedom of choice for individuals to choose how they wish to get married in Israel.”
Event - Years - Wedding - Couples - Temple
The event comes two years after a similar wedding for three Israeli couples at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, an elaborate affair that was celebrated with klezmer music, violins, flowers, white wedding dresses and cupcakes.
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