Who’s Going to Break Up Haredi Marriage Monopoly?

My wedding has finally made it to the news. No, I don’t think the state of Israel particularly cares whether I, personally, got married or not, but here’s what I mean. When I started asking people about the bureaucracy of getting married in Israel, many people scared me half to death, or at least disgust. Some even suggested not registering as married in Israel in order to avoid the whole situation. And then there was another group of people who told me straight out to avoid the Rabbanut, Israel’s government Rabbinate, altogether by going the way of the Haredim.

Badatz, an acronym for Bet Din Tzedek, or Court of Justice, is the Haredi arm that dispenses marriage licenses, much like Bisli in a vending machine. The thing is, when the State started out and those secular Zionists pompously insisted in centralizing the marriage license industry so they could keep a record and run a country, the Haredim said, basically, “To heck with that. We’re going to register our own guys, and if you don’t like it, go climb an olive tree.” They thereby maintained their right to dispense Bisli marriage licenses, because who was going to stop them? The Messiah?

stavBadatz isn’t nearly as complicated as the Rabbanut, because Badatz only expects to register people they already know are ultra Orthodox and “keep the Torah.” So why should they bother forcing the women to sign notes that they went to the mikveh, the ritual bath before marriage, or that they took pre marital courses with a Rabbi or some such thing? Or that your Rabbi isn’t Conservative or Reform, or a Messianic Jew fםר Jesus, or even a priest who knows some Hebrew? They don’t care, because they assume their guys aren’t going to do that kind of stuff.

So when I went to Badatz in my jeans and sandals in order to circumvent the Rabbanut to get my marriage license, all I had to do was give them a note that my mother is Jewish, and my (now) wife’s mother is Jewish. We both walked in to their little office where nobody had a computer and they all spoke Yiddish, gave them our letters, slapped 360 shekel on the table and he asked me, “Who is doing your wedding?” I told him. He didn’t seem to care. I asked him if there’s anything my Rabbi has to do at this wedding. (At Rabbanut weddings, you have to follow protocol exactly or you don’t end up married.) The guy said, “KeHilchisa!” Literally, “The right way!” Meaning, according to Jewish law. Or, in this case, the implication was “I don’t care what you do!”

So we left, got married, and then picked up our license a few weeks later. Dealing with Haredim had never been so pleasant.

Now, this Rabbanut circumventing phenomenon is circulating in the news, finally. That’s what I mean when I say my wedding finally made the news. Rabbi David Stav (above) of the Tzohar Rabbis Organization, a group of Rabbis that is fed up with the Rabbanut and its insane bureaucracy, said this week, “Today, formally, it is the local rabbinates that are authorized to register marriages, in the marriage departments. However, you never actually see Haredi-religious Jews going there to register for marriage, because the Haredi Jews can register for marriage at the various Badatz courts, which have deals with local rabbinates that allow them to register marriages and later pass on the paperwork to the rabbinate.”

He continued, “Zionist-religious and even secular couples go to those Badatz courts because there is not a long line there,” (that’s me, baby!) “You don’t need to go back several times to complete the paperwork, and you do not need to bring witnesses to testify that you are single. Also, there are many who want a specific rabbi to perform the ceremony although the rabbinate does not approve that rabbi, while the Badatz courts have no supervision and they let almost anyone marry couples.”

Seriously, I could have had an Imam do my wedding and they wouldn’t have cared.

Rabbi Stav said this because he wants to get Tzohar in on the action. Piece of the pie, slice of the cake, etc.

Ain’t love grand? I call for a mudwrestling match between the Rabbanut and the Tzohar guys. Badatz can ref.

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