Israel’s Jewish Marriage Database is a Red Flag

Ultra-Orthodox Jews propose international Jewish database.

A plan by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish authorities to create a Jewish database[/tweetit] has caused a stir among Jews worldwide. Although the intention behind the database seems perfectly harmless, some rabbis point out a disturbing possibility.

Israel’s Jewish Marriage Database is a Red Flag[/tweetthis]

For one, ultra-Orthodox Jews don't share the same beliefs as other Jews. They are highly rigid and strict with their religious observances, and there are often tensions between them and the diaspora Jews – non-Orthodox Jews. In fact, ultra-Orthodox often don't even consider the diaspora Jews as being Jewish, insisting that they are neither regular nor sincere in their faith.

Rabbi Seth Farber, the director of Jerusalem-based ITIM, an organization that helps Jews who are dealing with religious bureaucracy in Israel, said that Jews are afraid that the database may possibly exclude Jews whom the ultra-Orthodox categorize to be non-Jewish. This number, he observed, can even go up to 90% of the Jews. He accused the ultra-Orthodox authorities of trying to bully their way into the private lives of Jews worldwide, and exclude moderate Jews from the greater Jewish community. He added that it is not easy to assess who is a true Jew and who isn't, saying most Jews are not ultra-Orthodox or even Orthodox although they are Jewish according to Jewish law.

The database, which is a compilation of the marital status of the Jewish people will be an expansion of a database which already exists in Israel. The authorities maintain their aim is to prevent married people from marrying again.

Rabbi Hizkiyahu Samin, head of the marriage department, said the database will help Jews who immigrate to Israel to prove the authenticity of their claim of being Jewish, and allows them to register for marriage there.

The biggest problem is rabbinical courts are very rigid and demanding in their examination of immigrant Jews, and these Jews who find it hard to prove their faith may find themselves excluded by the database. Because the database will be accessible to any rabbi, concerns are also being raised about the privacy issues the registered Jews will face.

Rabbi Farber expressed his frustration at the database by saying the future of the Jews is being decided by a set of people “who have no understanding of the Jewish world.”


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