Grassroots movements protest religious coercion and the monopoly of the Rabbinate in Israel over matters of marriage and divorce. Jerusalem, Israel. 9 June 2011.
The Rabbinical Courts are part of the Israeli judicial system. They pass sentence based on Jewish 'Halacha' and have exclusive authority in matters of marriage and divorce for Jews in the State of Israel and some authority in matrimonial law including relevant issues in conversion to Judaism. The authority of the Rabbinical Courts is based on legislation in the Israeli Knesset and influenced by a 63-year balance of political power between secular Israelis and religious parties. Jewish marriage in Israel is not recognized unless performed by the Rabbinate and Israeli Jews cannot divorce outside of the Rabbinate. These facts have an enormous effect on many aspects of the private lives of secular Jews who would prefer to be governed by civilian marriage laws. Jews in Israel are held hostage by laws of 'Halacha' whether they believe in them or not - religious coercion, in what some believe, its darkest form.
Recently, grassroots movements have begun to deal with these issues. The Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, represented by Motti Bebchuk, and Free Israel, represented by Eyal Akerman, joined hands today to demonstrate in Jerusalem against the monopoly the Rabbinate has over matrimonial law in Israel. Dressed up as brides and grooms and carrying a Chuppah - a canopy under which a Jewish couples stand during their wedding ceremony, activists chained themselves to each other and to Rabbinical Court doors symbolizing the tight grip of the Rabbinate. Their slogan is "We Are Being Squeezed Into One Frame" emphasizing the absence of choice.