(JNS.org) A new report by the Israeli NGO Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality says that 660,000 Israelis—among them 364,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, 284,000 in the LGBT community, 13,000 non-Orthodox converts to Judaism, and others—cannot legally marry in Israel due to laws prohibiting civil and non-Orthodox religious weddings in the Jewish state.
The Hiddush report, released Monday, is based on findings from opinion polls and data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.
While marriage in Israel is administered by the country's Chief Rabbinate (which adheres to Orthodox religious practices), the Jewish state does recognize civil marriages conducted abroad, and as a result, 20 percent of weddings that are registered in Israel take place overseas. Seventy percent of secular Israelis express the desire to marry in a civil ceremony in Israel if the law would allow it, the report said.
“The [Israeli Chief] Rabbinate’s monopoly not only fails to contribute to preserving Judaism; it is a cause for the public’s hatred of Judaism, identifying [the religion] with dark zealotry,” said the head of Hiddush, Rabbi Uri Regev.