Non-Orthodox weddings: Rabbi gets nabbed by Israeli police

Non-Orthodox weddings: Rabbi gets nabbed by Israeli police July 23, 2018

In a 5am raid on his home last week, Rabbi Dov Haiyun, above, was hauled in by Haifa police and interrogated ‘Iran-style’ over his practice of conducting non-Orthodox weddings.
Police, according to this report, acted on a complaint lodged by a local rabbinical court.
But Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit intervened last Thursday and ordered the police halt the questioning of the Conservative rabbi brought in earlier in the day over weddings  he conducted outside the auspices of state-run Chief Rabbinate.
Haiyun, who has been officiating at non-Orthodox weddings in Israel for decades, was released several hours later, after committing to appear for another round of questioning on Monday (today).
The Justice ministry said in a statement:

After an initial clarification of the matter, the Attorney General instructed police not to summon Rabbi Haiyun for a criminal investigation until the completion of a clarification into whether his actions raise suspicions of a criminal offence.

Haiyun said he was shocked by his arrest and said Israel was becoming an Orthodox theocracy.

Iran is here already. I am not an offender, not a murderer, not a criminal. I was amazed. The police has been drawn into becoming a tool in the hands of the Orthodox rabbinate. It is a sad day for Israeli democracy.

Politicians, mostly from opposition parties, blasted Haiyun’s treatment and criticised the Orthodox control of the rabbinate.
Avi Gabbay, leader of the main opposition faction the Zionist Union, accused the rabbinate of acting to quash competitors in a statement.

This is not Iran here! The police cannot be a religious force operated by the rabbis who are afraid of competition. Be welcoming, respect women who want a get [divorce document], give service to people instead of sending the police! I call on the chief of police to make sure that this first incident is also the last.

Head of the left-wing Meretz party opposition MK Tamar Zandberg said she intends to ask Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan for “accountability.”

It is not clear when the Israel Police became a religious police which arrests people for their faith and holding a wedding according to their ways. What is clear is that this show of force won’t stop the tens of thousands of couples who marry each year outside of the rabbinate and no one will manage to stop that.

Opposition MK Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, warned of how Haiyun’s detention would be perceived among US Jews, most of whom are not Orthodox.

This is mad ultra-Orthodox coercion. Have we gone crazy? Think about world Jewry. What will the millions of Jews in the US think when they wake up this morning and hear that in Israeli affairs their beliefs and faith are a criminal offence? What does it say about us that Israel has become the only democracy in the world in which Jews don’t have freedom of religion? The religious establishment is convinced that if it controls Netanyahu, it controls the country.


MK Yehudah Glick, above, a religious member of the ruling Likud party, tweeted:

There are some things which are not supposed to happen in a democratic state and this is one of them. Unnecessary, damaging, stupid.


In contrast, MK Bezalel Smotrich, above, from the hawkish national-religious Jewish Home party, said the law must be upheld.

Pulling in someone in the early hours of the morning is indeed an unnecessary and damaging police practice. But – and it is a big but – the law is the law and if someone breaks it then they have to stand trial. I support the rabbinate and the police.
Leaving marriages and divorce in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate according to the Torah is important and critical in order for us to remain a unified people and in order that in another few generations we can marry one another without worry. The shortsighted demand to change it is irresponsible and we will do everything to prevent it.

Rabbis for Human Rights said in a statement:

As a nondenominational organization of rabbis who believe that Judaism has a many faces we hope that Israel will come to its senses, and that the day will come in which all different paths to be a Jew will be recognized in our country.

This report explains that, according to the law, rabbis that perform any non-sanctioned weddings in Israel could also be subject to prosecution – so can the bride and groom. When the measure was passed in 2013, a Chief Rabbinate spokesman said that non-Orthodox weddings would only run afoul of the law if they were performed using traditional Jewish rites.
Haiyun uses a traditional Jewish ceremony in his weddings, so a religious court in Haifa invoked the law and ordered the police to interrogate him.
Before last week, the law was never enforced.
UJA-Federation of New York called Haiyun’s detention:

Dramatically inconsistent with Israel’s promise as the home of the entire Jewish people.

Even the American Federation of Teachers felt compelled to weigh in. The president of the union, Randi Weingarten, who is married to a rabbi, condemned Haiyun’s detention as one of a series of “anti-democratic and nativist actions” in Israel.
Haiyun says he isn’t worried that this will deter other couples from seeking non-Orthodox weddings. In the day-and-a-half since he was detained, he’s received a number of requests to perform weddings. He knows of other couples who have sent their names into local police stations confessing to their non-Chief Rabbinate weddings.

I only benefited from this and the Conservative movement only benefited from the publicity. Finally, it’s time for the State of Israel to deal with this issue and solve it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Paul

    Forget about the notions that the next Global Conflict will originate from disputes with North Korea or China or Russia. Its all going to kick off in the region off in the Middle East. The Fundamentalist Orthodox Jews are aching to bring on the End of the World to fulfil Torahnical messianic prophecy and the Fundamentalist Islamic State of Iran is hungry for any excuse to wipe Israel off the face of the globe even, or probably especially, because the West will be duty bound to defend it and will be sucked into the conflict. And then everyone else will want to join in the bloodbath. Armageddon … the surest self fulfilling prophecy ever cooked up by religious loons.

  • Broga

    These power hungry misery guts can only enforce their laws with the compliance of those who accept their rules.

  • L.Long

    What do you expect in a country that pays dimwits who do nothing but study fairy tales their whole lives?!?!?

  • AgentCormac

    With Netanyahu at the helm, anything is possible in Israel these days.

  • Barry Duke
  • Matthew Carr

    Personally, I would also blame the secular folks who stood by and watched all these changes take place.

  • andym

    @MC I suspect it’s the same complacency as has led to the current situation in the US, UK and other parts of the world. Previous generations fought and campaigned for freedoms and reforms we so took for granted we forgot they need constant defence and reaffirmation.

  • Club Secretary

    “so a religious court in Haifa invoked the law and ordered the police to interrogate him.”
    Sounds like a theocracy to me.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    in order for us to remain a unified people
    You might be too late.

  • Vanity Unfair

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/19/israel-adopts-controversial-jewish-nation-state-law
    Legislation stipulates only Jews have right of self-determination in the country
    And only some Jews, it would seem.
    The Justice ministry said in a statement:
    After an initial clarification of the matter, the Attorney General instructed police not to summon Rabbi Haiyun for a criminal investigation until the completion of a clarification into whether his actions raise suspicions of a criminal offence.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itmNiTwHOsM

  • AgentCormac

    @Barry Duke
    Ironically, they behave just like the Brown Shirts of the 1930s with their vigilante violence and intolerance to anyone who doesn’t conform to their ‘norms’. Fucking idiots. They should go back to school and take a few history lessons to see where this kind of thing ends. (Like jews, of all people, should need any kind of reminder about what bigotry and discrimination result in.)

  • StephenJP

    I find this sort of stuff incredibly depressing. Once upon a time, or so I thought, Israel was basically a secular state, priding itself on principles of equality for all its citizens (apart, ahem, from those it had chucked out in 1948). Now it seems to be becoming increasingly narrow-minded, with the truly primitive, reactionary god-botherers having the whip hand. I am a supporter of Israel, especially in contrast to the dreadful theocracies that surround it; but, my goodness, they don’t do themselves any favours sometimes.

  • RussellW

    StevenJP
    So, you’re a supporter of Israel. Does that include support for the initial colonisation and displacement of the Palestinians the wars of conquest, the occupation, the land thieving carpetbaggers that are called ‘settlers’ and the constitution of Israel as a Jewish state?

  • John the Drunkard

    How do you run a democratic state with a religious/’racial’ identity built in? Israel had a good run at this, with Druze and Muslim citizens participating in the government etc.
    But these Haredi carpetbaggers are deadly parasites. Contributing nothing to the commonweal while living off the state like Mormon fringe cultists.
    The weak electoral state has failed to rein in these nuts, and now they are able to handicap any coalition government that might stand up to them.

  • Great Satan

    “Mixed marriages for all other nations – but not for us” ; https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-steps-its-war-mixed-marriages/25051

  • 1859

    Sometimes it feels like Israel is imploding – the various factions appear to be drifting apart and what they can manage to agree on to be dangerously thin. Only when they are threatened from the outside is there anything that remotely resembles unity. But then look at the appalling ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed. I would also concur with what someone said in one of the above posts – of all the people in the world who should be ultra sensitive to bigotry and racist attitudes and what they can do to a people, it is the Jews. And yet the ultra Orthodox Jews especially appear to be just as racist towards the Palestinians as their one-time Nazi enemies were against them.