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In A Blow to Religious Establishment, Israeli Court Rules Online Marriages Must Be Honored

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
August 2022

An Israeli district court in the city of Lod ruled in July that Israel’s  
Interior Ministry is required to recognize the marriages of couples who use a  
virtual wedding service provided by the U.S. city of Provo, Utah.  
“If the decision stands,” reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (July 11, 2022),  
“it would mean that couples who do not want to or cannot have an Orthodox Jewish  
wedding could get the benefits of marriage without leaving Israel, as they are  
currently required to do. Those include LGBT couples, interfaith couples and  
couples in which one partner is not recognized by one of the established  
religious authorities and couples who are committed to non-Orthodox Judaism.”  
Israel has no civil marriage and Jewish marriages have been controlled by the  
Orthodox establishment, which has frustrated non-Orthodox Israelis and those who  
convert to Judaism outside of Orthodoxy. Non-Orthodox rabbis cannot perform  
weddings in Israel and their conversions are not recognized.  
Until now, marriages not recognized by the Orthodox establishment had to occur  
abroad in order to be registered by the Interior Ministry. When the Covid  
pandemic began in early 2020, some couples turned to an online wedding service  
launched in Utah. Officials in Utah did not realize the convenience the service  
could provide to those in countries with restrictive marriage laws, but were  
pleased to offer it. After the Israeli Interior Ministry froze registration of  
the Utah marriages, a number of couples, backed by Israeli civil liberties  
groups, filed a lawsuit. Now, conservative politicians pledge to advance  
legislation that would negate the court’s ruling. **

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