The First Couple Registered for ‘Partnership Covenant’

Advocate Irit Rosenblum: ‘A Feeble Law’

Six months after the approval of the law, Svetlana and Gabi became the first ‘religion-less’ couple in Israel to gain legal recognition for their union. They canceled their plans to get married in Prague, but New Family Organization notes: “Israel is still the only democracy without civil marriage

April 12, 2011

By: Omri Ephraim

Translated from Ynet

Svetlana and Gabi may have entered history, but there is still no breakthrough in civil marriage in Israel. On April 12, the immigrants from Russia and Ukraine became the first couple to establish a recognized family framework under the ‘Partnership Covenant Law’, six months after the law went into effect.  So far only about 25 pairs of ‘religion-less’ partners have contacted the Justice Ministry to register as a couple following the passage of the law. The law was widely criticized when it got approval from the Knesse on the grounds that it does not solve the problem of 300,000 people who are still prohibited from marrying.

In a modest ceremony was held at the Justice Ministry, in the presence of office workers in Jerusalem, the first couple was registered by the Registrar of Marriage, Yossi Hershler. The law, initiated by MK David Rotem, lets couples where both partners are religion-less to establish a union that is accepted by government authorities. The novelty in the law is that for the first time, spouses who have no religious affiliation and are registered in the population registry as ‘religion-less’ can register as a recognized union.

Justice Ministry Director-General, Dr. Guy Rotkopap, commented on the small number of couples who applied to Ynet: “I do not deal in numbers. The Ministry of Justice will be happy to register any couple. I do not know if there will be hundreds or thousands.”  He said this is a historic day: “The arrangement opens the door to a solution for many of Israel’s citizens, who until now could not establish their relationship in a way recognized by the state, and were forced to travel overseas to marry.”

Attorney Irit Rosenblum, executive director of New Family organization, attacked the law: “The Ministry of Justice is in a tough dilemma if it needs to market this feeble law nearly a year after enacted. This proves the Ministry’s failure with the law.” She said that only now, “the first pair is ready to play the power game.”

Rosenblum emphasized that in Israel, many still can not marry traditionally: “The law does not meet the needs of 300,000 people who are religiously prohibited from marrying and tens of thousands who want to marry in civil ceremonies. The State of Israel is the only democracy in the world that has no civil marriage.”

MK Rotem congratulated the newlyweds and rejected the criticism. “Criticism is not relevant. Just the smile on this couple shows that the legislation was justified. All those who complain about the law did nothing for these people for 60 years. ”

Gabi (30) and Svetlana (28), a loving couple of seven years, were very excited when they got the first marriage certificate, bearing number 001. They said they changed their plans after approval of the law: “It’s a good solution for those who could not get married until now. We thought to get married in Prague, but then we heard about this law. It feels great.  We waited a long time for this.”

Couples who want to register for a ‘partnership covenant’ should submit a request to the Registrar at the Ministry of Justice. If the Registrar decides that the couple meets all legal requirements, including that do not belong to a religious community recognized in Israel, a copy of the application for registration is delivered to leaders of all the religious courts of in Israel, to examine their religious status. If no objections are received, the couple is invited to report to the Justice Ministry in order to register their union.

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