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Inna and Pavel

Choosing Who and How to Marry in Israel

New Voices of Conscience: Inna Zyskind and Pavel Kogan

Inna_and_Pavel_kissingInna Zyskind, 37, and Pavel Kogan, 36, were married on August 15, 2011 on the Jewish Valentine's Day, Tu B'Av. Something about their wedding was a bit unusual, to say the least, and it wasn't the bride's red dress! Their commitment was organized by NIF grantees Havaya--Israeli Life Cycle Ceremonies and the Fishka Club, who agree with the couple that you don't have to be Jewish according to the strict guidelines of the ultraorthodox Rabbinate to have a Jewish wedding in Israel.

Freedom of Choice in Marriage
: Though the state of Israel recognizes Jews under the Law of Return as "a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion" (mfa.gov.il), the Rabbinate has a more limited definition. By law, there are no civil marriage or inter-religious marriages in Israel, and each religious institution is responsible for the civil matters of citizens of its faith. The Rabbinate is thus responsible for legal determinations around birth, marriage, divorce and burial for the Jewish community of Israel. Though Inna and Pavel made aliyah (immigrated) from Russia to Israel as Jews, the fact that Inna's maternal grandmother was not Jewish prohibits them from being married according to Israeli law.


What Motivates Inna and Pavel? Inna and Pavel have a ten-month-old daughter, Nea. They want her to be able to marry the way she wants to when she is older.

Inna and Pavel's Role
Inna and Pavel's wedding was the third such public event organized by the New Israel Fund and its partners. Like Inna and Pavel, people across Israel want to teach the public that everyone should be able to choose who and how to marry. On the day of Inna and Pavel's wedding, New Yorkers celebrated with them in a storytelling event about marriage equality here and there.


Here's an interview with Inna and Pavel:



Watch this video from Havaya, explaining that one "frame" in which to get married does not fit all:

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$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.