More than half of Israelis support marriage outside of Chief Rabbinate, survey finds

JERUSALEM (JTA) – More than half of Jewish Israelis are interested in having alternative weddings that do not involve the Chief Rabbinate, a new survey has found.

Some 55 per cent of Jewish Israelis are interested or quite interested in an egalitarian Jewish marriage alternative, according to a survey conducted for Hiddush, an organization that promotes religious freedom in Israel. Among those who identify as secular, 81 per cent prefer that approach.

The response to the survey conducted last month by the Smith Institute represents the first time that a majority of the Jewish Israeli public has expressed support for marriage outside the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate, according to Hiddush.

The survey question was: “The State of Israel today recognizes and registers only marriages of Jews that are conducted within the framework of the Chief Rabbinate. A number of movements and organizations offer an alternative of Jewish egalitarian marriages outside the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate, which grant couples many rights and responsibilities that the State recognizes, just as it does for couples that marry via the Chief Rabbinate. To what degree would you be interested in such an alternative for yourself or your children who intend to get married?”

Among those the survey termed “Zionist Orthodox,” 13 per cent of respondents support marriage freedom, as well as 40 per cent of “Traditional – close to religion” and 61 per cent of “Traditional – not so close to religion.”

Those who wish to marry outside the Chief Rabbinate, including those who are not recognized as Jewish or same-sex couples, and then be recognized as married by the state must travel to another country to be married.

The survey was released Thursday ahead of Lag B’Omer, which traditionally is the start of wedding season in the Jewish community. It was conducted April 19-20 among what the poll called “a representative sample of Israel’s adult Jewish population.”

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