Tel Aviv has had the highest divorce rate in Israel
for the past several years. Now it turns out that the marriage situation in the city is nothing to write home about either.
According to figures released by the Tel Aviv Religious Council, 2010 saw a 6% drop in the number of marriages compared to the previous year – with only 3,149 couples tying the knot.
In total, 200 fewer couples registered for marriage last year than in 2009. This downward trend, which began in 2008, is attributed by the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to the global financial crisis which broke out at the time.
The three previous years, 2005-2077, saw a constant rise, with a 25% surge in the number of marriages.
An analysis of the 2010 figures shows that the average marriage age range is 27-32, and that 60% of people who got married in Tel Aviv did it by the time they turned 35.
Nonetheless, 1.5% of brides and grooms were under the age of 20, 30% were 35 to 55, and 10% were older – eight of them over 80 years old.
Another analysis of the findings reveals that 75% registered for their first marriage (single people) and the rest had already been married before (divorced or widowed). For 10% it was the third wedding, and for few – the fourth.
Twenty-two couples remarried each other in 2010 after getting divorced (2009 had only five similar cases).
Eldad Mizrahi, chairman of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Religious Council, says the drop in the number of marriage is also reflected beyond the official data, with quite a few couples postponing or calling off their weddings due to the economic situation.
According to Mizrahi, 10% of couples married in 2010 chose to have a modest wedding at a synagogue or at the Rabbinate rather than at "regular" banquet halls.
Mizrahi points to additional reasons for the drop in the number of marriages in his city, including the fear of a commitment in light of the rise in divorce cases and the many alternatives for weddings "according to Jewish Law" – civil marriage or other agreements between couples.
He says the Rabbinate must acknowledge the "competition", make the registration procedures simpler and prevent bureaucracy or other phenomena making it difficult for people to visit its offices.
The Religious Council chairman is urging his friends at the Rabbinate to make the registration user-friendly and even offer it online, "so that we can remain relevant", and improve the level of service.
"I believe this can be done while maintaining the existing halachic system," says Mizrahi. "We must lead the necessary change so that the institution of marriage according to Jewish Law remains relevant for the public."