Featured Stories

Public Wedding Strives to End Orthodox Monopoly on Marriage

In the first-ever public non-Orthodox Jewish wedding held in Israel, Nico Tarosyan and Olga Samosvatov welcomed not only their family and friends, but also dozens of journalists from around the world and hundreds of passers-by.

The wedding was held in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square August 4th on Tu B'Av, a traditional Jewish celebration from biblical times when single men and women would meet during the grape harvest. The wedding was funded and organized by NIF  and grantees Havaya – Israeli Wedding, which arranges non-Orthodox Jewish weddings, and Fishka Club, a social club for Russian speaking new immigrants.

The wedding drew local and international journalists from as far away as China, Australia, Brazil and Russia. The music, dancing and carnival atmosphere, which carried on through the night, attracted the attention of Israelis enjoying a night out in Tel Aviv.

Enjoy the Video of Nico & Olga at their recent wedding!

Nico is one of the more than 300,000 Israelis, most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who are prohibited from marrying in Israel because they are unable to prove their Jewish status to the rabbinate, or who are Jewish on their fathers’ side. Israel has no civil marriage and Nico and Olga will be forced to travel abroad for a legally-recognized civil ceremony in Prague.

NIF President Prof. Naomi Chazan recited one of the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings) and she also presented the couple with the many greetings sent from NIF well wishers around the world. Former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg, who officiates at weddings for Havaya, recited another of the Sheva Brachot.

Nico, a computer technician who studies at a Bet Midrash in Tel Aviv, said, "We wanted a meaningful Jewish wedding that would connect us to our Jewish roots, while also protesting a humiliating situation for so many Israelis."

Read more about Nico and Olga here.

Under the chupa Nico Tarosyan and Olga Samosvatov became media stars.

The bride Olga Samosvatov holds greetings from NIF supporters around the world as she gives an interview. 

View more photos from Olga and Nico's wedding in the online photo album.

Links to the media coverage:

Jerusalem Post

Globo.com article (in Portuguese)

China View


$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.