Earlier this week I wrote about the dismal service offered by the Rabbanut when people come to register their marriage. Instead of being happy and encouraging the couple, they are often rude and force the couple to jump through hoops to prove that they are Jewish, even if they could confirm their status with a few phone calls.
Two commenters recommended using alternative services to the Rabbanut, one to the right (Eida Charedit), the other to the left (Tzohar). To the best of my knowledge, it is technically not legal to marry through either of these services yet Misrad Hapnim will often accept documents from the Eida (not sure about Tzohar) and register a couple as married.
I’ve also heard of couples marrying with a Reform rabbi, and somehow getting Misrad Hapnim to register the marriage.
I think that there is a lot of benefit to having a single body in charge of weddings, conversions, and divorces, it removes doubts for future generations and avoids the problem of “my son can’t marry your daughter”. It also means that there is a single location where records are kept, making it easier for future generations to trace family records.
That said, given the terrible service provided by the Rabbanut in some cities, maybe there should be some level of recognized competition to the Rabbanut.
This could mean licensing other organizations like the Eida or Tzohar to do weddings, and make sure that they have the halachic knowledge, appropriate supervision/control, and a proper record keeping system.
Alternatively they could relax the requirement to register the marriage in the city where one of the couple live. Given that some offices of the Rabbanbut are more “user friendly” than others, travelling to a neighbouring town to register a wedding would be a good alternative for some couples, and would keep control in the hands of the Rabbanut (I believe that this is similar to the conversion system proposed in the Rotem Bill).
There is already competition in other services provided by the Rabbanut such as Kashrut, Mikvaot, and Eruvin. Maybe it’s time to let the power of the free market force the Rabbanut to improve their customer services/
(BTW – I am deliberately avoiding the question of non Orthodox or secular weddings, I do have an opinion on that question, and maybe I’ll address it in a separate post)