Maybe it’s just the fact that Tisha B’Av is winding down for me and I’m writing this in a spate of hunger/anger that rivals the Hulk’s.  But you know what I think is even more ridiculous than the fact that I’ve been craving Frappuccino/pizza/pretzels all day?  The fact that Jews can’t get married in Israel. Specifically, Russian Jews.  That made aliyah and served in the IDF and now can’t marry because the Rabbinate doesn’t recognize that they are Jewish.  And so they have to fly out of the country, and their huppah in Israel won’t count for anything.


The Orthodox rabbinate forbids a legal wedding to Olga and Nico. On Israel’s Valentine’s Day, Tu B’Av, August 4 at 7:00 PM Israel time, Nico Tarosyan will marry Olga Samosvatov. The festive public ceremony in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square will promote awareness of the human cost of the Orthodox monopoly on Jewish marriage in Israel.

If you want to throw them some cash to get to Prague, where they will actually marry, or so Olga can  buy a hideous Israeli wedding dress that matches the completely hideous situation she had to go through just because she can’t get married legally in Israel,  donate some money to their flight to Prague. I, for one, am giving them $19.  Why $19?  $18 for chai. And $1 so I can pay to punch the people who make these decisions in the face.  Molodtsi, rebyata (kol hakavod) for furthering the cause.

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  • 1. Their chuppa in Israel counts for a lot – it is a ceremony that has been around far longer than the Rabbinate – and it is the true Jewish wedding, not the stamp of approval from that organization.

    2. The Rabbinate needs to be disbanded. Yesterday. It is a diasporic institution, made up of primarily anti-Zionists, who are not really observant Jews (remember the whole category of mitzvot bein adam l’havero….?) and does not contribute to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Since the state already recognizes any civil marriage performed elsewhere – the rabbinate makes absolutely no difference. We should just go back to the days when you made a few phone calls, or simply asked around, to find out about your new child in law to find out if they were Jewish. That’s all the rabbinate really does anyway – and charges you money for it, too…

  • Sorry – being Jewish is not just a about feeeeeelings.

    It’s about a binding covenant of Torah and halacha.

    Soviet emigres who are not Halachically Jewish should be educated about Judaism and encouraged to convert. But we should not make believe these people are Jewish.

    This is a classic example of how misplaced, mawkish sentiment can wreak havoc further down the line.

    • Ben-Gurion said that Israel is open to all Jews and that everybody is Jewish who feels Jewish. This doesn’t go in line with halacha, but it gives you a good take on who did / could immigrate to Israel before matters got more rabbinised. Even some of the most notable figures in Jewish popular history wouldn’t have met the rabbinate’s requirement. There should be criteria in order to limit immigration and the financial exploitation of Israel, but I don’t think it’s the rabbinate’s position to determine this.

      • Throughout the history of Judaism, Jews have celebrated the bond between man and woman in a very intricate and beautiful ritual of wedding. A Jewish wedding has two stages or distinct ceremonies. The first is called the kiddushin. It is the dedication of the bride to the betrothed and prohibits the woman from being with any man. The second stage is called the nissuin or the chuppah and it permits the kippa
        wearing groom to be with the bride.

  • It seems to me that these people could resolve this matter by having a halakhic conversion. It would be cheaper than travelling to Prague.

  • “But we should not make believe these people are Jewish.”

    Sorry, I guess I have to stop making belive I’m Jewish, along with millions of other Jews were born in the USSR, just because we don’t keep kosher and follow a series of other checkmarks.

    I just thought being Jewish was the fact that I was born ethnically Jewish, and therefore, am Jewish. Oh, and that just because of our Jewish ethnicity (which is stamped into your Soviet passport at age 18, by the way, allowing Russians to deny you jobs because you’re a Yid,) we were beaten, spat upon and jeered at in busses (that would be my mom,) and fired from our jobs (that would be my mom’s whole family) and blacklisted when we wanted to immigrate to Israel, which, we understood to be a state for all Jews, regardless of whether they separated milk from meat or not.

    And then, after all that, and serving the Israeli army, which some people that have a binding covenant with the Torah and halacha don’t, we still can’t even get a legally-recognized marriage in our own Jewish state. I guess Olga and Nico can just make pretend they’re married, just like they make pretend they’re Jews.

  • Ben-David – read the article, this has nothing to do with feelings. “Although both his parents are Jewish, he is unable prove his status.” What makes the dayanim in the Rabbinate so special that get to decide who is Jewish and who isn’t? The laws are there – some anti-Zionist jerk is not someone who should get to decide anything in Israel. We lasted thousands of years without them – I think we can do fine a few more.

    I am not saying anyone is Jewish who is not halachically Jewish – only that the Rabbinate has no business deciding it. Not that I really like the NIF, but on this very narrow issue, of this couple – they’re right.

  • I’m with Vicki and LB. Heck, Adrian Brody and Ben Stiller are not Jewish! 🙂

  • Viki:
    we were beaten, spat upon and jeered at in busses
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Sorry V – it’s the Semites who decide who is a Jew, not the anti-semites.

    Ben-Gurion said that Israel is open to all Jews and that everybody is Jewish who feels Jewish.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    As usual, you should read a little more – specifically about B-G and Labor’s racism towards North African Jews.

    You could also *think* a little more – politicians make all sorts of grand statements, but this was never policy even back in B-G’s day, and he certainly wouldn’t enact it in the modern Israel of migrant workers and other opportunistic immigrants.

    Ben-David – read the article, this has nothing to do with feelings. “Although both his parents are Jewish, he is unable prove his status.” What makes the dayanim in the Rabbinate so special that get to decide who is Jewish and who isn’t?
    – – – – – – – – – –
    ummm, the fact that they’ve devoted decades to study of Halacha makes them “special” enough to decide these things – or at least, more “special” than you, me, and the self-styled “progressives” of the New Israel Fund.

    The wife was able to demonstrate her Jewishness. Why not the husband? And if it’s important to him, why not convert?

    – and LB: what makes the New Israel Fund so “special” that they can go against the wishes of the majority of Israelis who want the Law of Return to align itself with Halachic definitions of Jewishness?

    • B-D, I’ve read that particular quotation by Ben-Gurion, like it or not. Also, I suggest you adjust your manners. I’ve never addressed you with the condescending rudeness you are again displaying against me.

      Usually, it is not me holding religious sentimentality against factual knowledge.

      As for thinking, think about this: early Zionists certainly didn’t need any background checks and they were largely secular, not abiding by Orthodox standards; Ephraim Kishon, a later immigrant, recounted that upon his immigration, the only thing he was asked was his name, which on that occasion was officially changed into a Hebrew-sounding one. (BTW, not every German-sounding lastname is a distinctively Jewish one.) Many Orthodox (and by that I mean Chasidish) Jews in the US cannot trace their families farther back than three generations. “Yichus” has become a matter of hear-say in that community rather than family tree. I suppose Russian immigrants are not opportunistic enough to join those communities to be able to claim full benefits and still circumvent military duty. The rabbinate is a recent invention. I doubt it would serve Israel well to have itself be turned from a secular state with Jewish roots into a theocracy with upstate NY elitist community flavour.

  • Ben-David – you’ve misunderstood me. I’m not arguing against the halachic concept of Jewishness. Not at all. Only against the Rabbinate’s role. There are plenty of Zionist Rabbis who could fulfill these roles admirably – all the while adhering to mitzvot bein adam l’havero. From my experience with representatives of the Rabbinate, I am not inclined to believe them when it comes to determining one’s status as a Jew.

    Again – Jewish is Jewish period. Yes. Plenty of better people have devoted years of study – rather than those in the Rabbinate.

  • The Rabbinate in Israel should be ashamed of itself and the negative role it has played in the attempted conversions of many, many, many good people.

    The Israeli government should be doubly ashamed for the above and for being the key sponsor of the Rabbinate’s authority.

    Vicki is right to be angry. Sure, there may be cases where the heritage is so questionable that one needs to ask whether the person is Jewish, but in many more cases the problem is that of denying the validity of rabbis who are not aligned with the Rabbinate.

    And don’t be so smug, Ben David. s we’ve already anticipated and demonstrated a while back on Jewlicious, what started out as a movement against the Reform and Conservative movements, eventually encompassed an attack on Modern Orthodox as well.

    Maybe the answer is a mini rebellion. People could make it a point to go around the system. They could marry in Cyprus, convert in the US with a Reform rabbi and when in Israel, go only to restaurants that serve shrimp or are open on shabbat.

  • It’s about as great an idea as taking good people who are Jewish and who see themselves as Jews and calling them non-Jews.

  • And speaking of excellent restaurants, I would like to inform the world that friends have informed me that a great restaurant is in trouble in Jerusalem. Macaroni on 28 King George is a superb restaurant but it is apparently hurting for business. This is a shame, especially because it’s a small family owned restaurant. The woman behind the counter who is also the waitress, is also the chef. She is an amazing pasta chef.

    In other words, for great pasta in Jerusalem, especially Italian food, please go to Macaroni on King George. Please. It seriously puts many other Jerusalem restaurants to shame.


    So, dammit, go there and give them your money and eat their delicious food. Then come to Jewlicious and thank me for the recommendation.

  • Heck, they should skip the marriage part and just have babies together. That way, if they need to divorce, they can avoid that whole messy Get problem which the Rabbinate so loves. 🙂

  • I like part of Middle’s idea – I would support a mass movement to have civil marriages in Cyprus and then in Israel have a Jewish ceremony (i.e. their real one) – but not under the auspices of the Rabbinate.

    Will try to check out the restaurant this week.

  • The Israeli left imported almost a million non-Jews who they knew would not vote for the religious parties and would more than likely vote for the mostly extremist radical left.

    The left knew that if the religious would not accept them as Jews, the left could avoid all responsibility and join the blame game against “religious fanatics”.

    You can see the same cycle of vile behavior with the thousands of illegal African Workers whoare flooding into Israel each month. The left cries against returning these criminals to their homes,knowing that if the goverment fails to deport the illegal aliens, then the left has acquired thousands of new voters, and if the Government succeeds in deporting the aliens then Shas a religious party can be labelled as racist.

    The moral of the story is that anytime you see the post-zionist extremist leftist mainstream carry out liberal acts, try to figure out who they are trying to screw and who they are trying to blame.

  • The left didn’t “import” anyone, Galit. Russian Jews, for the most part, came on their own free will because Russia is a horrible place for human beings, and Jews in particular.

    Ben-David: “Sorry V – it’s the Semites who decide who is a Jew, not the anti-semites.”

    Well the problem is that we defined ourselves as Jews. And the anti-Semites made it hard for us to be so. Additionally, I’d like to know which ministry office in Israel you went to that gives out Self-Righteous Jewish Identity-Determiner cards that you so freely flaunt yours and enables you to judge people Jewish or not. Cause I’d like to get in line too.

  • LB: Isn’t that funny, after all that leftist manipulation, Lieberman took the Russian votes to the right.
    But don’t worry, the left is dealing with Lieberman.

    Vicki: The leftists changed the “Law of Return” to allow non Jewish great-granchildren of a Jew to freely immigrate to Israel.

    They also allowed the non Jewish relatives of Ethiopian Jews into Israel under that same “law of return”.

  • I’m sorry Galit, but you have a severe gap in your understanding of Israeli politics. Soviet Jews have been pro civil liberties in Israel, but strongly Jewish and pretty strongly right-wing – well before Lieberman was even just Yvette, Bibi’s chief of staff. Lieberman did not take Russian votes to the right – they were there to begin with. I’m sorry it doesn’t fit with your false conception of the left importing people that would vote for them.

  • Vicki, also being from the FSU, I read your posts with great interest. Not sure whether things were different in the ’90s (we ‘came out’ in the ’70s), but I don’t have any ‘hard evidence’ to say that I, or either of my parents are/were Jewish (or not). As it happens, my father was Jewish and my mother has Jewish ancestry, but is not Halachically Jewish. I do not know what type of evidence would be sufficent for the Israeli Rabbinate, but I have always wondered how other refugees from the FSU have Orthodox marriages (I live in Australia), ie. I (and, for that matter, my Mother) was ‘outwardly’ no different to ‘Halachic’ Jews and presumably could have had an Orthodox marriage if I had been flexible with the truth (for the record, my identity was firmly Jewish).

    I think this is the sort of thing the Rabbinate is worried about. This is in no way meant to detract from point – I support your view. But it is not clear what the Rabbinate should do in these circumstances – should they take somebody in good faith at their word; or should they have certain standards of ‘evidence’ and, if so, what sort of evidence? Looks like, as with so many other issues, they are making it more difficult than ever.

    As an aside, I ended up converting (my story is in this blog: )

  • And to BuberZionist – have a halachic conversion? They are already Jewish! Anyway, if my conversion costs are anything to go by, a flight to Prague would be much cheaper.

  • Francis,

    Thanks for linking to your story and for bringing up a valid point. However, you are right that they make things crazy difficult.

  • Let’s think outside the box for a second. Why can only Jews be married in Israel? Instead of changing the status of one couple, or changing the perspective of one group of people, why not just promote equality among everyone. That way, self-rightgeous people like Ben-David can feel better than Vicki, yet Russian Jews can still get married.

    I guess I just don’t understand why non-Jews aren’t allowed to be married in Israel. (Or, I know why, but I’m not buying it.)

  • This discussion is just nonsense…..

    I do not care who is Jewish, Muslim, Ateist, Christian, Hindu, etc.




    Everything else is racism and discrimination!