666,000 Israelis can’t legally marry in Israel – report

A Knesset caucus on religion and state receives startling figures on the growing divide between Israelis and their state rabbinic institutions.

According to Hiddush, an advocacy group that presented a report on the subject to the Knesset Nation, Religion and State Caucus today, 666,000 Israelis are unable to marry at all under Israeli law. These are Israelis who do not fit any state-recognized religious categories — Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Druze, etc. — for which the state offers a publicly-funded religious court system.

Israel has no civil marriage.

This reality leads some 20 percent of Israeli couples to register their marriages abroad, Hiddush says.

The group quotes a survey that found some 70% of secular Israelis would choose to marry outside the Orthodox state rabbinate if they were legally allowed to do so.

“The rabbinate’s monopoly not only fails to contribute to preserving Judaism; it is a cause for the public’s hatred of Judaism, identifying [the religion] with dark zealotry,” Hiddush head Rabbi Uri Regev says.

The figures are based on Central Bureau of Statistics numbers, a poll conducted by pollster Mina Tzemach for a religion-and-state advocacy group, and public opinion research by Smith Consulting, Hiddush says.

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