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Guide to Getting Married in Israel

Guide to Getting Married in Israel

Israel’s Health Ministry guidelines for holding weddings during the COVID-19 pandemic are evolving with the public health situation. For free, up-to-date information on acceptable venues, number of guests, and more, contact the ITIM Assistance Center.

Background

In order for a Jewish wedding in Israel to be recognized by the State, it must be carried out under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. The Chief Rabbinate operates according to Orthodox halacha (Jewish law), which specifies various requirements and prohibitions regarding marriage. Civil marriages performed outside of Israel are recognized for purposes of national statistics, but not personal status. Similarly, “common law” marriages afford couples some marriage-related rights and protections, but not full recognition.

Opening a State Marriage File

The first step in having a State-sanctioned wedding in Israel is opening a file at one of the Chief Rabbinate’s marriage bureaus. This should be done at least 45 days prior to a couple’s wedding date, though it is advisable to do so earlier, especially when there are special circumstances, such as a conversion or previous marriage. Files can be opened at any of the Rabbinate’s marriage bureaus, regardless of where in Israel the couple lives.

If you do not live in Israel, but wish to get married here, the ITIM Assistance Center can open a file for you, and guide you through the rest of the Rabbinate’s registration process. Please contact us at least three months before your wedding date.

Rabbinate Requirements

The Chief Rabbinate requires couples to:

  • Sign statements of their intent to marry
  • Inform the marriage bureau which rabbi will be officiating at the wedding (all rabbis must be approved by the Rabbinate)
  • Pay a fee (discounts are available for students, soldiers, new immigrants, and others)

In addition, the Rabbinate requires women (and in some cases, men) to attend classes on the Jewish laws of family purity, which are available through the Rabbinate’s marriage bureaus, non-profit organizations, and authorized private instructors.

Required Documentation

Couples must submit the following documentation to the marriage bureau at which they open their file:

  • Identity cards (Israeli citizens) or passports (non-Israeli citizens)
  • Kosher certification from the venue where the wedding will be held
  • Certificate or letter stating that the woman (and in some cases, the man) has studied the Jewish laws of family purity
  • Approval from the officiating rabbi
  • Proof of unmarried status (see below)
  • Proof of Jewish status (see below)

If one or both of you is divorced, you must submit:

  • Civil and religious divorce documents (the Rabbinate must approve your get (religious divorce document)

If one or both of you is widowed, you must submit:

  • Death certificate of your previous spouse

If you are a female divorcee, convert, or the daughter of a non-Jewish father, you must submit:

  • Letter from a rabbi recognized by the Rabbinate stating that your fiancée is not a Cohen

All couples who wish to marry through the Rabbinate must prove they are Jewish. If your parents or a sibling were married through the Rabbinate, you need only present their marriage certificate. In all other circumstances, additional documentation is required.

If either of your parents were married outside of Israel, you must present:

  • Letter from a rabbi recognized by the Israeli Rabbinate certifying that they–particularly, your mother–are Jewish

If one or both of you immigrated to Israel:

  • Letter from a rabbi recognized by the Israeli Rabbinate certifying that you are Jewish

If one or both of you converted to Judaism in Israel:

  • Te’udat hamara (conversion certificate)

If one or both of you converted to Judaism outside of Israel:

  • Conversion certificate that must be approved by the Israeli Rabbinate

There are special circumstances that require additional documentation. Please contact the ITIM Assistance Center for help.

After the marriage bureau verifies your documentation, it will notify you that your ketubah (marriage contract) is ready. The bureau will send you a  marriage certificate in the mail after the wedding. Mazal tov!

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