As Kadima reached its final stages of coalition negotiations, the Forum for Free Choice in Marriages called on Kadima, Labor and Israel Beitenu to honor their promise to legislate civil marriages. The forum is comprised of more than 26 organizations in Israel. In Israel, marriages must be performed by the rabbinate in an Orthodox ceremony to be legal, meaning that both the bride and groom must be Jewish according to Halachah (Jewish Law). Non Jews are permitted to marry anyone they wish, but a Jew who desires to marry a non-Jew must marry outside of Israel. In 2005 alone, 264,600 Israelis could not marry in the country because they did not meet Israel’s Orthodox standards. The vast majority of these were Soviet Jews, Jewish according to the minimal standard of the Law of Return (requiring that the father or grandparents must be Jewish), but not according to stringent Jewish Law (requiring that the mother must be Jewish). “How can Israel call itself democratic if it does not honor one of the most basic human rights: the right to marry?” argued Professor Naomi Chazan, chair of the Israeli Association for Freedom of Religion, Culture and Science.
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