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But as a symbol of the state, the younger Netanyahu’s personal choices will be scrutinized and excoriated when they butt up against the third rail of Israeli society: racial/religious segregation or “hafrada.” In Israel, the only legally recognized wedding ceremonies are those approved by religious officials authorized by the state.
For all of Israeli history, the power to determine who may marry and who may not has been held by a network of fundamentalist, ultra-Orthodox rabbis.
When two Jews want to marry one another, they must apply to the rabbis in the city where they live, and prove their mothers were born Jewish and their mothers’ mothers were born Jewish.
If the bride or groom immigrated to Israel from another country, then a rabbi from the city they originated from must attest to the fact that they, and their mothers and their mothers’ mothers, were born Jewish.
Only the word of certain rabbis is trusted, and the list of acceptable rabbis is very short.