Taking the Wedding Ceremony into Our Own Hands

Israeli BFree has recently added the organization "Havaya - Israeli Ceremonies" as its central flagship project. In the struggle for freedom of choice in marriage and divorce in Israel, it is important to remember that there are options: there is an alternative to marriage in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel . A wedding through Havaya is the Israeli solution to a meaningful and personal ceremony. Miki Gitzin,CEO of Israel BFree, invites you to be part of the Love Revolution in Israel.

Mickey Gitzin03.09.15

Israel BFree is a movement. It was formed six years ago by a group of friends and ideological activists who sought to make a change in Israeli society. These were all young people who saw the relationship between religion and state in Israel as one of the basic problems of the Israeli society and aimed to change the present restrictive reality that weaves through citizen's personal arenas of life.


We were a group infused with ideology: we rallied, we screamed, we met with influential people and we led several important social struggles like the struggle against the exclusion of women in public spaces, the campaign for public transportation on the Sabbath,  the fight against the rabbinic monopoly and many others. We have operated then and we are still operating to forward the goals that we believe in. We succeeded in some of our campaigns and were less successful in others. In some areas change is extremely apparent, while in others, it is clear that the path is still long to implementing real change.  

Taking the Wedding Ceremony into Our Own HandsIdit and Peleg's wedding, Conducted by Ram Efrat - Havaya. Photography: We Are Red

With the institution of the previous government in 2013, when the Ultra-Orthodox remained out of the government but Yesh Atid (Literally: There Is A Future) - a party that places freedom of choice on its main flag - was included, we had a sliver of hope that the political system would be able to provide some solutions to one of the main problems in Israel : the rabbinic monopoly regarding the issue of personal law. Before that government fell apart we stood together with other partners to embark on a large public campaign and we hoped for the best.


We knew then what we know clearly now as well. More than 70 percent of Israeils support freedom of choice in marriage in Israel. The public is with us and justice is with us as well.  We are not the only ones who have reached the unmistakable understanding that it is not possible for citizens in a democratic country to be denied the freedom to choose the way that they would like to marry. It is unthinkable that citizens should not have the freedom to decide the type of Rabbi who they would want to officiate at their wedding. It is not conceivable that only Rabbis from one denomination are permitted to marry couples according to law.  The western world is moving forward; civil marriage and single sex marriage is recognized in more and more countries, yet in Israel, almost as a reaction, the situation is frozen in place and even is planning on moving backwards. Conservative Religious Judges are nominated to serve as judges, while rabbinical courts are reverting to operate under the Ministry of Religious Services (after they were under the authority of the Minsitry of Justice) and it seems that these setbacks are only beginning.  The previous government collapsed and in its place a right- Ultra Orthodox government was formed that is clearly taking us backwards in every aspect of what has to do with freedom of religion


When this is the reality, when the current government is not open and the parliament is devoid of any influence in the matter, it is inevitable that citizens must take on the action that is demanded: boycotting the Rabbinical institution and avoiding any type of collaboration with this corrupt body that has been forcing itself upon the population.  


Israelis, even those who the Rabbinate forbids to marry through their auspices still insist on playing the game and going through real abuse by the institution. These people as well as couples, who the Chief Rabbinate would happily marry, must keep their feet far away from the steps of the Chief Rabbinate offices.


But what we say no to is only one part of the story. The more important question is what the "yes" is. What do we advocate? When we sought for the "yes" we found Havaya.  As for me, Havaya is the ultimate answer for Israeli couples who are interested in having a meaningful ceremony outside the Rabbinate. Thousands of couples who marry every year through Havaya instead of through the Rabbinate are exactly the answer to all those citizens who want an Israeli wedding but do not want the Rabbinate as part of it. 


A wedding through the Rabbinate is not the only way to celebrate the cementing  of a relationship. A meaningful Israeli wedding ceremony that is designed from beginning to end by the couple is exactly the way to celebrate love. To personally design your wedding with a full accompaniment of the Havaya staff, should be a  central part of wedding planning. The ceremony can be approached like all other details that are important for you to design . In the same way a couple digs deep to arrange every detail of the big night, it is important to also think about the ceremony and insist that it speak your exact language.


And now I would like to make a personal request: be our ambassadors. Talk to your friends and family. Tell them that there is a good alternative, a better alternative. An Israeli alternative of value to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The alternative is called Havaya and as of today, Havaya is a part of Israel Bfree. I invite you to celebrate with us your love and to marry exactly as you wish. 

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Charli SmithWedding Really there is no point in having a really huge ceremony, only invite those whom are close to you and keep the budget down enough to go somewhere really nice on your honeymoon.
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