Marriage Without The State Clergy Monopoly
By Rabbi Akiva Herzfeld (’07), Coordinator of English Educational Programs, Neemanei Torah V’avoda (NTA), Chashmonaim, Israel
Almost a year ago, I received an urgent phone call from a woman (let’s call her Dina), who told me that the chief rabbinate’s office had just telephoned her here in Israel. They wanted more proof of Jewishness. She had already sent out invitations for her wedding, but now they wanted proof that she was Jewish.
Of course, I had proof of her Jewishness because I had served as a rabbi in Portland, Maine, where Dina’s grandmother lived. More than five years ago, I wrote a letter for Dina certifying that she was Jewish so she could make aliyah. Before doing so, I investigated her grandmother’s ketuba, and saw that it was in accordance with Orthodox law. I checked her birth certificate and her mother’s. I checked on other aspects of her upbringing as well, and I had her documents on file and her life story for four generation in my hand.
I tried to call the chief rabbinate’s office but received no answer.