• Inspirica is looking for volunteers to provide and prepare a meal to be dropped off at their site. Unfortunately, staying to serve is not offered at this time. Use our Meal Calendar to check for an available slot, and sign up to serve! The meal drop-off would be between 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. at 141 Franklin Street, with meals to serve twenty people.

  • Civil Marriage may be on the table in Israel. But at a cost. Read about an intriguing potential deal, which would involve a major change to the Law of Return. I would hate to tighten restrictions on aliyah, but I would take this offer in a second. The chance to have marriage freedom in Israel is just too precious to let pass. What that would do for LGBTQ rights, religious pluralism and the loosening of the rabbinate's monopoly on personal status, would be priceless. It would be a game changer for the majority of Israelis who have felt trapped by repressive restrictions on marriage, as well as conversion, funeral practices and access to pluralistic communal prayer at the Western Wall.

The deal would involve no longer considering someone automatically eligible for aliyah if they have just one Jewish grandparent. A prospective non-Jewish immigrant would need to have one Jewish parent to qualify in the "Law of Return." It's interesting that at least we are talking about either parent being Jewish, which would include those who are Jewish only on their father's side (patrilineal descent).

The Law of Return, first passed in 1950, allowing all Jews automatic citizenship in Israel, expanded the traditional halachic definition of a Jew to include as anyone with a single Jewish grandparent. At that time, the embers of Auschwitz were still fresh. The Law of Return was designed to mirror the Nuremberg Lawswhich used that criteria to determine who would be considered Jewish and thereby marked for extinction.

But now, current Israeli religious authorities don't want to "dilute" the Jewish character of the state by allowing lots of non-Jews with just a single Jewish grandparent into the state. I find that strategy to be shortsighted and counterproductive; I've seen many such individuals find their way back to Judaism. We should welcome with open arms anyone who wants to identify with the Jewish people. But really, there aren't a lot of people fitting that definition clamoring to move to Israel these days.

But many Jews living in Israel want to get married and can't because of the oppressive restrictions imposed by the rabbinate. Some end up going to Cyprus or opting for common law marriages, and others for no marriage at all. It's time for true marriage equality to come to Israel.

So yes, I'd take the deal in a second.

But, given the way these things get floated and quashed, it is probably already off the table.