Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ending extortion under the chupah


At 7:33 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

1) Examples of the practice:
As a Tel Aviv-area banquet hall manager said at the time, "The elite go after the big-name rabbis for their family weddings , like Rabbi Lau and Rabbi Yona Metzger." The bride-to-be, now a 30-year-old Tel Aviv lawyer, says Metzger told her "not to worry about the fee." But on her wedding night at the Tel Aviv Hilton, she says, Metzger refused to perform the service unless he was paid $ 500 - his initial demand was $ 1,000, she notes - and even threatened to "smack" her father during the ensuing argument. The couple's families were left with no choice but to pony up the fee and give it to the rabbi, who performed the marriage ceremony in 15 minutes, the woman says, before he rushed off to do another one.
Metzger was suspected of forging the signature of his driver as a witness on various ketubot - Jewish wedding contracts. Allegedly, the object was to enable Metzger to conduct as many wedding ceremonies as possible in a single evening. Allegations have also been made that Metzger had demanded payment from couples he had wed, in violation of the law.

2) The proposed solution:

Jan. 30, 2005
Tardy rabbis face one-wedding-a-night limit

In an attempt to combat endemic tardiness, rabbis will be restricted to one wedding a night, according to a directive being mulled by the Marriage Council of the Israeli Rabbinate.

The directive would put an end to the phenomenon of rabbis braving traffic jams, inadequate parking arrangements and disgruntled in-laws in their rush from chupah to chupah, often in pursuit of financial gain.

The recommended reforms await the final approval of Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger.

The council is also planning to prevent neighborhood and city rabbis, who already receive a salary, from accepting additional payment for presiding over the weddings of their constituency.

Ratzon Arussi, rabbi of Kiryat Ono, and chairman of the Marriage Council, said that neighborhood and city rabbis receive a salary to provide all religious services, including the arranging of weddings.

"But if a rabbi is highly demanded and is asked to preside over weddings outside his jurisdiction, he should be allowed to receive payment," said Arussi.

David Stav, rabbi of Shoham, and spokesman for Tzohar, a group of young, moderate, Orthodox rabbis who preside over weddings for secular couples free of charge, welcomed the reform, but warned that unless more were instituted quickly the entire religious services apparatus would face the threat of privatization.

"People will soon be so fed up with the rabbinate that they will demand a far-reaching revamp," warned Stav.

He expressed concern that the rabbinate would be dismantled and rabbis would cease to receive salaries from the state.

"If that happens, every encounter that a secular person has with a rabbi, which is presently subsidized by the government, will turn into a business negotiation.

"Predominantly secular cities would be devoid of religious services. Individuals would be forced to pay a hefty price for them," he said.

Arussi agreed there was a real danger that religious services would be privatized unless services were improved. But he said Tzohar's involvement was counterproductive.

"We don't want a situation in which there are a bunch of different groups providing services," said Arussi. "That weakens the rabbinate and increases the chances of privatization."

Stav said in response that the establishment of Tzohar as an Orthodox alternative forced the rabbinate to adopt reforms.

Stav said that Tzohar was established to fulfill a real need for warm, personable rabbis who, unlike rabbis sent by the rabbinate, take the time to meet couples before the wedding. Tzohar tries to accommodate Orthodoxy to secular sensibilities without compromising its basis principles.

Stav severely criticized the practice of receiving payment for presiding over weddings.
"Rabbis who already receive a salary from the rabbinate, demand anywhere between NIS 500 and $1,000 to arrange a Chupah," said Stav.

"That should be eradicated immediately."

"We're fighting the distasteful practice, of which the present Chief Rabbi himself [Yonah Metzger] is guilty, of money-grabbing under the chupah," said Stav.

"Often rabbinate rabbis show up at the wedding, having never once met the couple, and, out of sheer callousness, make offensive jokes or comments completely out of touch with the values of the couple and the family members."

He added that often this was the first and last encounter secular Israeli had with the rabbinate.
Stav, who himself is employed by the rabbinate, stressed that not all rabbis are insensitive or greedy.

"But those few ruin it for everyone."

At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And note that R. Metzger became Chief Rabbi with the backing of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who, besides knowing about R. Metzger's very checkered past when he supported his run for Chief Rabbi, is also the major signer of the R. Slifkin ban. R. Elyashiv was not concerned about due process – or thruth – in either case.



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