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US Jewish groups express ‘outrage’ over police inquiry of Masorti rabbi in Israel

Police officers in Haifa arrived at the home of Conservative (Masorti) Rabbi Dov Haiyun at 5:30 a.m. on July 19, and brought him in for questioning about conducting an unauthorized Jewish wedding.

Conservative (Masorti) Rabbi Dov Haiyun was detained by Israeli police on July 19, after being accused of performing weddings for couples who are prevented from marrying under Jewish law. Credit: Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Conservative (Masorti) Rabbi Dov Haiyun was detained by Israeli police on July 19, after being accused of performing weddings for couples who are prevented from marrying under Jewish law. Credit: Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

American Jewish groups have expressed anger and concern after learning that Israeli police detained and questioned a Conservative rabbi for officiating a wedding in the Jewish state.

Officers in Haifa arrived at the home of Conservative (Masorti) Rabbi Dov Haiyun at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday and took him in for questioning at the local police station for performing a Jewish wedding, which is the sole authority of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel.

The rabbi has performed weddings for years for couples wanting to marry under the auspices of the Conservative (Masorti) movement. He leads the Masorti Moriah Synagogue in Haifa.

In 2015, a new law was passed in Israel making it a crime for anyone to perform a wedding ceremony without registering it with the Chief Rabbinate, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit instructed police to end the inquiry later that day. It seems to have been the first time that police have acted on the relatively new law.

Major U.S. Jewish groups spoke out immediately, calling the incident “outrageous.”

“Today’s actions against Rabbi Haiyun mark a new and dangerous step in the ongoing attack on religious freedom and civil liberties in Israel,” read a statement released on Thursday from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which expressed “outrage” over the move.

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