Civil Unions in Israel - but not for you
I continue, despite nearly 22 years of living in Israel, to be flabbergasted at the (select any of the following adjectives) stupidity, naivete, incompetence, ignorance and close-mindedness of our Knesset members.
Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Knesset Law Committee where a bill to legalize civil unions was discussed. Such unions would grant couples most rights enjoyed by married couples.
Many countries have such a law. In some, it allows couples to choose this path rather than a traditional religious ceremony. In others it may be augmented by a ceremony. Still elsewhere, it provides a solution for those unable to marry under state law.
Here in Israel all marriage is religious (read: Orthodox for Jews). This means that two Jews may marry via the official rabbinate. Two Catholics may marry in the church. Muslims may also marry one another in their faith tradition.
But Israel has over 340,000 citizens unable to marry at all. Imagine, a democratic country where such a sizable portion of the population must travel to Cyprus, or elsewhere in the world, to be registered as a married couple. These are mostly citizens who immigrated under the Law of Return but who are not halachically Jewish (not Jews in the eyes of Jewish law). They may live as Jews in every way, but they were not born to a Jewish mother and conversion in Israel is, even when one is willing to be demeaned by the process, nearly impossible.