At every Jewish wedding seven blessings are recited wishing the couple success in building a Jewish life and home together. The last of these blessings includes the hope that the couple will enjoy a life of love and companionship, peace and friendship.
We in Ruach Hiddush, an organization of over 350 Rabbis and Cantors of all denominations, and those who share our concerns are wondering what role love, companionship, peace, and friendship is playing in the issue of marriage in our beloved State of Israel.
We who stand with Ruach Hiddush as well as our members are particularly concerned about the recent detention and interrogation of Rabbi Dov Haiyun, a Conservative-Masorti rabbi, for violating a law that prohibits the performance of a marriage outside the purview of the Chief Rabbinate. We are shocked that Rabbi Haiyun was targeted for violation of this law since it is a well known fact that many Israeli Orthodox rabbis have performed weddings outside of the Chief Rabbinate’s orbit without having this law applied to them.
The law itself appears to be contrary to Israel’s Declaration of Independence which guarantees that Israel’s citizens are entitled to “…complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture….” Indeed, in a 2017 Hiddush poll, Israeli Jews and Arabs, who presently may be married only by their respective religious authorities, were asked if they agreed with the statement, “Every resident of Israel has the right to get married in Israel with whomever he chooses, in whatever way he chooses, and according to his beliefs.” The majority of Israeli Jews and Arabs responded in the affirmative.
The new reality created by Rabbi Haiyun’s detention and interrogation is of deep concern to us because we are firm supporters and lovers of Israel and we believe that the arrest and interrogation of Rabbi Haiyun is antithetical to the Declaration of Independence upon which the modern State of Israel was founded.
We are also extremely worried about the negative effect religious inequality and coercion has in distancing many Israelis from Judaism and many Diaspora Jews from Israel.
In view of this, we the undersigned protest against the treatment of Rabbi Haiyun and against the religious coercion in Israel allowed by state support of a single vision of Judaism controlled primarily by the Chief Rabbinate and its Haredi supporters.