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September 13, 2005

Israel and the entrench religion and state relationship. 

Read this whole story at BBC it’s worth it.

The problem is, the only wedding that is legally recognized for Jews in Israel is the Orthodox ceremony and this is a wedding service neither will accept.

Like many other secular Israelis, they find the ceremony archaic and humiliating
Only 20% of Israel's population are Orthodox Jews, yet the Rabbinate, the chief council of Orthodox rabbis, has ultimate authority over Jewish weddings, funerals and all other areas where religion and daily life come together.

Irit must declare she is a virgin, she must not talk during the ceremony and she cannot sign her own wedding contract.

"I respect Irit as my equal," says Eli. "I will not start our married life with a ritual that demeans her."

But Israel is one of only a handful of countries which still has no civil marriage, so there is no easy alternative.

Each year, while 30,000 Israelis marry with an Orthodox ceremony, 12,000 do not.
Some Israelis object to what they see as an alienating and sexist ceremony.

Others are seen as not Jewish enough by the Rabbinate. This would mean that their family has had too much intermarriage with non-Jews.

"It is not right," says Irit, "that the Orthodox minority should be able to impose their views on us like this.

"The problem is, we are a young country trying to figure out whether we are a religion or a nation and ultimately, what is a Jew?"

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