Conference on Jewish Marriage Ceremony

“The Jewish marriage ceremony doesn’t reflect the changes in women’s status”

Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Machanaim spoke at a special conference about the Jewish marriage ceremony in our times. Rabbnit Godinger Dreyfus noted that she “views changes like these as a blessing,” yet added, “not everything that is permissible is desirable.”

Kipa News – Published: 15.07.18 [Translated from Hebrew]

In the wake of the “Private Marriage” initiative from the Mavoi Satum and Hashgacha Pratit organizations, and at a time when the Knesset is discussing changes in premarital classes for future brides, the OTS Machanaim hesder yeshiva held a one-day conference on the significance of the marriage ceremony reflecting upon the changes in the status of women in recent years.

Rabbanit Chana Godinger Dreyfus, slated to head a new yeshiva for women in Rosh Tzurim, spoke at the conference: “As far as the halakhic issues are concerned, there are openings and ways for making changes in the role of women during the marriage ceremony. However, not everything that is permissible is desirable.  During the ceremony, there are enough options for enabling women to be active participants in this holy setting without challenging halakhic rulings.”

She added that, “We should be attuned to the wishes of brides who want to give women who played a significant role in their growth to be a part of the marriage ceremony.  So, although there is a certain breakaway from the simple tradition which may cause some pain, I believe that changes of these kind are a blessing.  In 20-30 years, please God, when the main issue will not be about how the marriage ceremony is conducted, but how life itself is conducted, then maybe the time will have come to make additional changes and make use of the possibilities we have outlined here today.”

Other speakers at the conference were Rabbi Shlomo Vilk, Rosh Yeshivat OTS Machanaim; Rabbi Avraham Stav; Attorney and Rabbinical Court advocate Moriya Dayan of OTS’s Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center; Rabbi Shaul Farber, Director of ITIM; Attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, Director of Mavoi Satum, Rabbi Sarel Rosenblatt, a teacher at OTS Machanaim and rabbi of the Central Synagogue in Efrat.

Rabbi Vilk:  “The marriage ceremony as conducted today does not sufficiently reflect the changes that have occurred in the status of women, nor is it an expression of the economic and social changes in our times and so it speaks less and less to the hearts of the young generation.  They are forced to choose between a life of Torah and a worldly life instead of a ceremony that reflects the lifestyle they wish to live and which the halakha can allow.  When push comes to shove, rabbis and educators as well as premarital counselors are no longer sure what they are permitted to say, and what they can allow.”

Speaking about the cases of get-refusal which hit the headlines recently, attorney and rabbinical court advocate Moriah Dayan of OTS’s Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center said: “The period in the marriage when husband and wife love each other is the right time to think about the future and discuss how they will manage their affairs during a time of crisis.  Just as the ketuba, which is about the day after the marriage dissolves, is an integral part of the marriage ceremony, so too should the prenuptial agreement be an integral part.”

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