Categorized | Israel, NFTY North America

Lobbying for Marriage Equality in Israel

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By David Issacharoff, Noar Telem madricha

Two weeks ago, I was at the Knesset, Israel’s legislative parliament, wearing Noar Telem’s uniform, and I couldn’t feel any prouder that we are making our voice abundantly clear in front of our elected representatives.

We had the privilege of taking part in the Lobby for Equality and Pluralism, established by Knesset member Nitzan Horwitz. In the Knesset, its members have the right to open up lobbies regarding any issues concerning the state of Israel. Members of the Knesset and a few organizations that deal with the specific issue attend these various meetings.

The first meeting of the Equality and Pluralism Lobby regarded the issue of marriage equality. This is a huge issue within Israel. Today in Israel, you only can get married through the Rabbanut, the rabbinical council of Israel that only allows marriage between two Jews of completely Jewish descent, one man and one woman. They will not allow, under any circumstances, to marry a person who is half-Jewish, gay, or lesbian. Only Israeli officials perform these weddings following ultra-religious Halakha, or strict Jewish religious law. Some people do not want to take part in those weddings, so there are many Israelis who marry in places like Greece and Cyprus.

Meeting with Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz

Meeting with Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz

I am sure people in the room alongside Knesset members asked themselves what do high school students have to do with such issues like civil marriage. When I spoke in front of the members of the Knesset, I told them that this issue is relevant and will stay relevant for the next ten years, when we will want to marry. If the change won’t be made soon, we will keep being under the control of the Rabbanut, who does not allow us to marry the people we love.

It was important that day – when the youth of Noar Telem marched and voiced their concerns in the Knesset. It is not only our right, but also our solemn duty for our own future in our country.

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David Issacharoff is an active member and madricha (group leader) in Noar Telem, the Netzer Olami snif (branch) throughout the state of Israel. In addition to social justice activities, Noar Telem provides Progressive Jewish experiences for youth in Israel through summer camps and monthly activities and events. 

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