Breaking News: Schechter Rabbi Dubi Hayoun Detained for Wedding Officiation


Rabbi Dubi Hayoun, director of Midreshet Yerushalayim and a Schechter Rabbinical Seminary (SRS) graduate, was detained by Israeli police in Haifa this morning at 5:30am. Crime committed? Conducting a wedding according to the laws of Moses and Israel – in Israel. Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of SRS, stated: “The Rabbinical Seminary ordains Masorti/Conservative rabbis who will officiate at weddings in Israel even though it is “forbidden according to the law.” According to the law, a wedding must be officiated by the chief rabbinate and anyone who does not want to register with a religious council is at risk. The paradox is that in order to accuse someone of having a wedding outside the rabbinate, they have to admit that what we did was indeed a wedding. And if they do not recognize our weddings then on what is this accusation based?”

Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin, President of the Schechter Institutes issued this statement: “It is ironic that Rabbi Hayoun was brought in for questioning right before Tisha B’av, which commemorates among other events the destruction of the Second Temple which was destroyed because of sinat hinam, senseless hatred. Indeed, Rabbi Hayoun will be speaking today at the President’s house about pluralism and tolerance in honor of Tisha B’av!

 The Chief Rabbinate of Haifa refused to perform the wedding of a young couple because the young woman was a “safek mamzeret,” might have been conceived by a man other than her father.

 After the rabbinate refused to perform the wedding, the couple came to Rabbi Hayoun. After a thorough investigation during the course of one week, he concluded that the problem was invented by her father who wanted revenge against her mother. A year and a half after Rabbi Hayoun performed the halakhic wedding, the Chief Rabbinate of Haifa came to the exact same conclusion and issued an official document that the young woman may marry! In other words, It took them 18 months to conclude what Rabbi Hayoun concluded in one week! And to top off their incompetence, they asked the police to arrest Rabbi Hayoun!

This is exactly why the Marriage and Divorce Law of 1953 must be changed. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is very strict, very slow, and very insensitive to the needs of the young couples whom they are supposed to serve. This is why 25% of young couples now get civil licenses abroad; most of them are “kosher” in the eyes of the Rabbinate, but they refuse to be married there. This is also why many Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis now perform hundreds of marriages every year, which are not recognized by the Rabbinate and by the State of Israel. These young couples would rather have a meaningful ceremony with a rabbi on their wavelength than by a rabbi in a black coat who represents a coercive bureaucracy.

The bad news is that this incident will further harm Israel-Diaspora relations. The good news is that it will lead to hundreds of additional couples who will come to Rabbi Dubi Hayoun and other Conservative, Reform and Orthodox rabbis in order to avoid the Chief Rabbinate. It is my hope and prayer that the 1953 law will be changed and that couples will be able to marry according to their religious beliefs.”

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The State of Israel and the Jews of North America: From Problems to Solutions Responsa in a Moment: Volume 12, Number 4


On April 30, 2018, The Schechter Institute and the Jewish Theological Seminary co-sponsored a very successful academic conference at The Schechter Institute in Jerusalem on the subject listed above. Speakers included Chancellor Arnold Eisen of JTS, Natan Sharansky, Chair of the Jewish Agency and winner of this year’s Israel Prize, MK Rachel Azaria, and many professors from Schechter and JTS. The following is a translation of my Hebrew lecture delivered at the conference.

Just How Jewish Should Israel Be? Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch on Separation of State and Religion


How Jewish should the Jewish State be? As Israel continues celebrating its 70th birthday Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, asks whether Israelis can decide what kind of Judaism they want to support in both the private sphere and in the public one. Should legislators be weighing in on what kind of Judaism to practice?

What’s Wrong Between Israeli and American Jews?


For some years now conventional wisdom has it that Israel’s policies toward liberal streams and Palestinians are to blame for the rift between us and American Jews. I would not deny that the treatment of liberal Jews at the hands of Israel’s religious establishment, with the tacit complicity of Israeli government’s, is a disgrace; every Israeli should be ashamed of it. This demeaning, offensive attitude plays a very real role in the growing alienation from Israel felt by Jews in North America. Yet I believe it is worthwhile reflecting to the diaspora what it is about their own behavior that is causing the two communities to move even further apart.

Humility and Truth vs. Orthodoxy’s Quest for Special Status


As a Jewish Zionist from the depth of his soul and an ordained rabbi, who is involved in all of the contemporary streams Judaism; as one who made Aliyah from the US 39 years ago; and as scholar who’s been researching and teaching the various facets of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish culture in Israel and the diaspora (past and present) for many years, I have a suggestion to make to Mr. Verdiger. I suggest that when speaking about the needs of Jewish existence, he show more humility, be more respectful of the truth and be wary of basing his world-view on stereotypes.