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You may elbow bump the bride: Weddings in Israel down 25% in 2020

Some 30,260 couples married this past year, compared to 34,083 in 2019, report says; but unions were actually up in some ultra-Orthodox cities

Illustrative: A couple in medical masks on their wedding day (Ivan Zelenin; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: A couple in medical masks on their wedding day (Ivan Zelenin; iStock by Getty Images)

Weddings in Israel were down 25 percent in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Religious Affairs Ministry Thursday.

Some 30,260 couples married in 2020, compared to 34,083 a year before, the report said.

Despite the general downward trend, some ultra-Orthodox cities — Bnei Brak, Elad, Modiin Illit — actually saw a 12% rise.

The ministry said many marriage files opened this year did not include a specified date for the event, as there was much uncertainty about the ability to hold the celebrations.

Wedding venues have been largely shut down since March, with a brief respite in May-July before rising infections forced them to close again. With gatherings limited to 20 people outdoors for much of the year, weddings have generally been limited to small, socially distanced gatherings of immediate families only, likely leading some couples to postpone their plans.

During the summer months, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv made scenic spots available for wedding ceremonies, with financial support for couples that qualified for 20-person weddings.

Many mass weddings were reported in the Arab community in the late summer against regulations, and these have been largely blamed for the higher-than-average spread of the pandemic among that population in recent months.

Several mass Haredi weddings were also held in violation of health rules. Religious Affairs Minister Yaakov Avitan officiated at an ultra-Orthodox wedding in mid-October in violation of a national lockdown at the time. He later apologized for his actions.

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