Tying The Knot In Israel
A romantic candle-lit ceremony among the ancient ruins of Caesarea. A sunset Huppah overlooking the Mediterranean. With a historically innate spirituality, a destination wedding to Israel brings with it the promise of timeless romance and tradition. However with the number of secular weddings on the rise, the concept of a traditional Jewish wedding is no longer so clear-cut. Before planning your dream wedding in Israel, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the current local marriage laws and customs.
Who Can Marry in Israel?
Recognized Jewish Weddings in Israel
Recognized Jewish weddings in Israel are approved and performed by Orthodox rabbis authorized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and who serve as representatives of the official Israeli Marriage Registrar.
Who is Eligible?
A Jewish man and a Jewish woman who are able to prove their Jewish heritage. Conversions performed by Reform or Conservative rabbis are not recognized in Israel. Eligibility requirements include a certificate ascertaining that both partners are single, and have not been married in the past, as well as the bride and groom’s parents’ Jewish marriage certificates. For Jews living outside of Israel, it is recommended to open a marriage file with the Israeli Rabbinate at least three months prior to the wedding.
Jewish Weddings in Israel not recognized by the State
Recently, Israel is seeing a growing trend of secular couples opting for non-Orthodox wedding ceremonies that allow significant flexibility for couples. Certain secular rabbis will even agree to marry a Jewish/Non-Jewish couple. In order for these marriages to be recognized by the State of Israel, they must be combined with a civil marriage (see below).
Civil Marriage in Israel
While there are no legal civil marriages in Israel, Israeli couples may choose to marry in a country where civil marriage is valid and receive retroactive recognition from the State of Israel. Civil marriages performed overseas between Jewish-Israeli couples who later divorce, will not be exempt from a halachic divorce in rabbinical court.
Non-Jewish Weddings in Israel
The State of Israel recognizes and provides official marriage certificates for marriages authorized by Christianity, Islam and Druze. Completed marriage certificates must be presented to the Israeli Ministry of Interior for official registration.
For Protestant marriages, a minister must write to the Ministry for Religious Affairs prior to the ceremony requesting permission to perform the marriage and issue a marriage certificate.
Gay Jewish Weddings in Israel
While the State of Israel and the Chief Rabbinate do not recognize gay marriage, same-sex Israeli couples may attain common-law spouse status. Tel Aviv, an international city renowned for its gay friendly ethos, offers an abundance of non-formal options for gay marriage. Gay couples may choose a non-religious figure to officiate or a supporting Rabbi to incorporate religious traditions into the ceremony. Gay couples who marry overseas can be recorded in the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population, and Immigration Office.
With spectacular weather year round and an abundance of breathtaking venues, couples are no longer choosing to wed in Israel for tradition alone. Whether marrying in a synagogue or on the beach, in the desert or on a kibbutz, a dream wedding in Israel is a worth-while destination for couples of all faiths and is now, more than ever before, well within reach.