The Volokh Conspiracy

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Utah Online Marriages "Upend" Israeli Marriage Debates


[UPDATE: Though this is a practically important matter, it also just cries out "joke fodder" to me. I have no idea how it would go ("a rabbi, a Mormon, and a bride walk into a bar …"?), but I can just feel there's something there! Please post your candidates in the comments.]

From Times of Israel (Jeremy Sharon):

In a decision published on Friday, Judge Efrat Fink [of the Lod District Court in Israel] ruled that the Population and Immigration Authority of the Interior Ministry is obligated to register as married couples who wed through an online civil marriage service carried out under the auspices of the US state of Utah.

The decision means that Israeli couples can now get married in civil ceremonies without leaving the country, granting a de facto victory to advocates in the decades-long struggle for civil marriage in Israel.

Orthodox political parties have long fought efforts to institute civil marriage in Israel, citing their religious objections to the state sanctioning interfaith marriages and other unions prohibited by Jewish law….

Israeli law only allows for marriage through Israel's established religious institutions— e.g., the rabbinate for Jews, sharia courts for Muslims—meaning that hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens cannot get married in Israel due to various religious barriers.

Although couples have been able to marry in civil ceremonies abroad and have them registered by the Population Authority for nearly six decades, this process involves considerable expense and inconvenience….

No considerable expense and inconvenience any more, thanks to Utah County, which has allowed online marriages starting 2020 (even before the pandemic began). And my sense is that, as with normal marriages, the online Utah marriages can be officiated by a wide range of officiants, presumably including those rabbis who go for that sort of thing.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.