Friday, April 18, 2008

Love and Marriage

So yesterday we went to the 'Rabbanut' so that Eyal could act as a witness for a some friends who are getting married. The Rabbanut is where a Jewish couple register their intent to marry. In Israel there are no civil marriage ceremonies, and so only couples of the same faith can marry (either Jewish, Muslim of Christian). As a result Eyal and I can not legally marry in Israel, although they will recognize our marriage if it is performed elsewhere.

Of course many Jewish people in Israel are not religious, they are secular. However they still MUSt get married in a religious ceremony, performed by a Rabbi who determines most of the content of the ceremony.

There is a strange kind of mix between 'civil' and 'religious' at the Rabbanut. Eyal assured me it was not any kind of religious ceremony- just a registry office- but that I should dress cover my shoulders and my knees...

When we arrived it felt very much like a little registry office, but with framed pictures of famous Rabbis and religious paraphernalia adorning the walls. We waited for half an hour observing the Rabbi (looking!) men walking about busily and the plastic plants. The Bride and Groom to be were joking about how much he should 'buy' her for. Which was a joking allusion to a contract ( non-legally binding) both parties sign before the wedding somewhat like a pre-nup stipulating how she will be recompensed in the case of a divorce. This contract is in a currency from ancient Babylon, I think it was called 'zus'.

When we finally entered the office we were all surprised to find a (very) secular woman behind the desk. She was very friendly and joked a lot ( I don't know what about- I barely understood a word).

Eyal and another friend testified that neither bride nor groom had been married before. Apparently this is an issue because it is relatively easy to marry in Judaism. A man says in Hebrew to a woman a line about her being 'consecrated to him under the law of Jacob' ( or something - sorry I cant remember). If there are two (male, Jewish) witnesses and he gives her something worth more than 'a penny' they are married. Yes thats right she doesn't need to make a peep! Apparently there are some strict rules about women re-marrying if they have been married in this way already ( i.e. they can't marry someone from the Cohen family).

Anyway, she went through various paperwork, dates, times, names etc. it was over quickly and we went for a coffee.

Later I realised something else I found sinister and Eyal confirmed it- both bride and groom to-be showed their parents' marriage certificates... turns our if your parents were not married you will have a lot of trouble getting married.

Whew! That is two strikes for me.


Blogger Catalin said...

Thanks for sharing. It's good to be reminded of how different a place can be in a small way (although it's also a big way).

I get so angry and disgusted here with people trying to "define marriage as between a man and a woman" and to "defend marriage" in purely mean-spirited attempts to continue preventing same-sex couples from being able to call themselves married (they can be "domestic partners" and have all the legal rights, just not the socal status, here in California).

So, it's interesting to think of all barriers for different types of couples that exist in Israel.

Is there any sort of "marriage-law reform" movement there?

8:55 am  

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