In the absence of separation of religion and state, civil marriages are not conducted in Israel. Only a man and a woman of the same religion that have been declared eligible by religious authorities can legally marry in Israel. The only marriage ceremonies that can be conducted in Israel that lead to the registration of the couple as married in the population registry are Orthodox religious ceremonies conducted by clergy authorized by the religious establishment. Jewish marriages performed in Israel by individuals other than authorized Orthodox Rabbis (including Reform and Conservative Rabbis) are criminal offenses according the Israeli Penal Law (article 182). Couples of different religions or of the same sex must live as common-law spouses or marry abroad. Hundreds of thousands of people, who don’t meet the religious definition of any faith, can’t prove their religious heritage, whose religious status is questioned, are considered ‘questionable Jews’, or are religiously taboo, can’t marry at all in Israel. New Family offers the only civil solution to marriage for all couples in Israel – Domestic Union Cards™
An Israeli couple, or a couple consisting of an Israeli and a foreign citizen, can marry abroad in a civil ceremony and then register as married in Israel. Alternatively, couples can receive the status of common law partners with Domestic Union Cards™ and conduct a civil ceremony at New Family Organization or at the venue of their choice to celebrate their relationship. Only common-law partnership bolstered by Domestic Union Cards™ and / or contractual marriage offers true freedom of conscience and independence from religious or government authority.
Contrary to popular belief, civil marriage does not circumvent Rabbinate authority and does not exempt a Jewish couple from divorce in the Rabbinate should they decide to separate! A Jewish couple that married abroad still has to divorce in the Rabbinate, even if they were ineligible to marry through the Rabbinate! As only religious authorities can divorce couples, the Rabbinate must arrange the divorce even if the marriage was not under its authority.
Other disadvantages to foreign civil marriage are costs of travel abroad, marriage licenses and the issuing and translation of documents. Yet, contrary to common concerns, the status of children is not jeopardized by their parents’ marriage in a secular, civil marriage. Children of parents who marry civilly or live as common-law spouses without marriage are neither ‘bastards’ according to Jewish law, nor is their status as Jews contested
Where is Civil Marriage possible?
Cyprus – Marriage is possible without complicated procedures even if neither partners are citizens and requires relatively low costs.
CIS (former Soviet Union) –Immigrants that have multiple citizenships can marry there.
Western Europe and USA – Israelis can get married to a partner that is a citizen of these countries. However, two Israelis cannot get married in places like Italy, Czech and France, as a document called ‘nulla osta’ attesting they are free to marry is required. Foreigners can get married in Slovenia and Croatia.
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand – Marriage possible without complicated procedures even if neither partners are citizens, but requires high travel costs.
East Asia – Israelis can marry partners that are citizens of the countries in the region.