WASHINGTON (JTA) — A venerable Washington Reform synagogue will hold three wedding ceremonies next week as a rebuke to Israel’s rabbinate.
Each of the three couples to be married on March 26 at Washington Hebrew Congregation is unable to be married in Israel because of strictures imposed by the Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate. The event is organized by the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements.
“One is a transgender, gay couple; the second couple has one partner that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate does not consider to be Jewish; the third couple wants to have a modern, egalitarian ceremony, which the Chief Rabbinate also does not allow,” said an announcement from the Union for Reform Judaism.
One of the men to be married was born and raised in Israel, became a bar mitzvah and served in the military. He is classified as having “no religion” because the State of Israel and rabbinate did not recognize his mother’s conversion, performed in Romania before she immigrated to Israel, according to URJ.
The event is dubbed “Three Weddings and a Statement.” The couples will sign a petition calling for freedom of marriage in Israel to be delivered to Israel’s government after April 9 elections. The Blue and White Party, vying to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, favors loosening the rabbinate’s control over civil issues.
Israel recognizes marriages performed overseas, including those performed by rabbis of non-Orthodox streams.
Washington Hebrew Congregation was founded in 1852.