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We marry our way: more couples tie the knot without rabbis

TJI Pick
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Published: 23 August 2018

Last updated: 4 March 2024

THERE WAS NOTHING SUBVERSIVE about it at first glance: The bride wore white; the groom broke a glass under the wedding canopy to a hearty “Mazel Tov!”

But the couple in Kibbutz Hulda was part of a growing rebellion playing out in tuxedos and lace as Israelis increasingly chafe at the grip of the strictly Orthodox state religious authorities over legal Jewish weddings in Israel.

Married among fig and pomegranate trees at a rural kibbutz on a recent Friday afternoon, Adam Mendelsohn-Lessel and Julia Eizenman replaced the traditional seven blessings with their own vows. Instead of a rabbi, a stage and television actor officiated, opening with a rhyming rap about how they met.

“I didn’t really want a wedding, I just wanted a party,” said Mr. Mendelsohn-Lessel, 36, who works in a factory producing coffee roasters. “I don’t like the establishment and institutions.”

Eizenman, 29, a graphic designer born in Moldova to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, would not have qualified as sufficiently Jewish to marry through the official channels without undergoing a conversion, because, legally, Jewishness is matrilineal.

Thousands of Israeli couples a year are now ignoring the legalities, bypassing the state rabbinical authority, known as the Chief Rabbinate, and marrying any way they wish.

FULL STORY  Israel’s latest culture war plays out under the wedding canopy (NYT)

Photo: Shiran Abukasis (centre), 30, and Julia Klein (centre right), 24, jump into the pool during their wedding party, in Hadera, Israel last month (Corinna Kern/NYT)

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