UK progressive rabbis protest outside Israeli embassy over arrest of rabbi for officiating wedding

Israel stunned the world by arresting Rabbi Dov Haiyun for performing non-Orthodox weddings


Masorti, Liberal and Reform rabbis staged a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London over the arrest of a rabbi for officiating at a non-Orthodox wedding.

The 17 clergy and their supporters erected a chupah outside the Kensington building on Monday and smashed a glass underfoot - a tradition of all Jewish wedding ceremonies - to mark their outrage at the arrest of Rabbi Dov Haiyun, of the Masorti movement’s Moriah Conservative Congregation in Haifa, who was detained for performing non-Orthodox weddings in the early hours of Thursday morning. 

The local rabbinical council complained after Rabbi Haiyun carried out the wedding of a Jew born of an extramarital affair.

According to the rabbinical courts, he performs “criminal and illegal” weddings for couples who are prevented from marrying under Jewish law.

Jewish marriages in Israel may only be conducted under the auspices of the strictly Orthodox rabbinate. Anyone conducting a wedding who is not strictly Orthodox faces up to two years in prison.

Jonathan Wittenberg, senior rabbi to Masorti Judaism, said: “I’m shocked at the pre-dawn police interrogation of Rabbi Dov Haiyun for the ‘crime’ of officiating at Masorti weddings.

“Masorti Judaism in the UK calls on the Israeli government to end all harassment of non-Orthodox Jews and to ensure complete freedom of religion within the Jewish State.”

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, chair of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors said the rabbi's arrest “was not Shem Ha’Shamayim - for the sake of heaven.”

He added: “In a week when the Israeli Government has decided to discriminate against the LGBT community and Arabs, challenging the democracy of the State, it has also decided to police Judaism.”

Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky, chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors, said the arrest was evidence of “the ultra-orthodox monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

“Progressive rabbis and Jews around the world stand united against the appalling treatment of our colleague at the hands of the Israeli rabbinate.

“We call on the government of Israel to uphold the values and founding vision of Israel’s Declaration of Independence to ensure freedom and equality of religion for all.”

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