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Haaretz - Chief rabbi lobbies Israel MKs to reject new marriage law

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    Haaretz - Fri, January 06, 2012 • Published 01:09 06.01.12 • Latest update 01:09 06.01.12 Chief rabbi lobbies Israel MKs to reject new marriage law Rabbi
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2012
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      Haaretz - Fri, January 06, 2012

      • Published 01:09 06.01.12
      • Latest update 01:09 06.01.12
      Chief rabbi lobbies Israel MKs to reject new marriage law
      Rabbi Yona Metzger sends letter outlining the negative consequences of
      the 'Tzohar bill'; says legislation potentially disastrous.
      By Jonathan Lis

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/chief-rabbi-lobbies-israel-mks-to-reject-new-marriage-law-1.405728


      Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Thursday contacted all 120 MKs and
      urged them to reject a Knesset bill that would grant couples the freedom
      to choose the rabbinate office where they marry.

      Acknowledging that it was unusual for a chief rabbi to intervene in a
      political issue, Metzger wrote a letter outlining the negative
      consequences of the so-called "Tzohar bill," proposed by MK Faina
      Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu). At present, couples are affiliated to
      rabbinate offices according to their place of residence.

      Metzger wrote he was approaching the MKs "from heart to heart" in an
      effort to halt the legislation. The bill is named after an organization
      of modern Orthodox rabbis that has offered to perform marriages to
      Jewish couples wishing to wed in Israel. There is no Jewish civil
      marriage within Israel.

      Metzger characterized the legislation, which would amend the Marriage
      Law, as potentially disastrous. He said it would result in the birth of
      children who were deemed "mamzerim" under Jewish religious law, a status
      that limits their right to marry other Jews.

      "I am contacting you with an emotional plea," Metzger wrote, "out of a
      deep concern for the wholeness and unity of our people." He invited the
      MKs to meet with him individually, and wrote that there were other
      changes that could be made to the marriage registration in what he
      called a "controlled and responsible manner."

      The "Tzohar bill" received preliminary approval by the Knesset at the
      end of December, garnering broad-based support from both coalition
      parties and the opposition following a cabinet decision to support it.

      In response to Metzger's letter yesterday, Kirshenbaum said: "The
      Knesset, and not the chief rabbinate, is still the legislative entity in
      the State of Israel. We will demand that the bill go to the
      Constitution, Justice and Law Committee to ensure that it is passed
      quickly."

      Metzger hinted in his letter that he would be amenable to rival
      legislation on the subject, sponsored by Kadima MK Otniel Schneller.
      That bill, which passed preliminary reading but has been stalled in the
      Knesset's Interior and Environment Committee for more than 18 months, is
      considered more permissive than Kirshenbaum's in relaxing rules on
      bringing witnesses or couples certifying that they are not already married.
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