According to the man, the marriage registrar turned down his request angrily, stating: "You opened your file with Tozhar, so go to them for the certificate too."
The groom, Dudi Shemo, is a young religious man who was born and raised in Petah Tikva, and so he is entitled to issue the document on his marital status at the local rabbinate or in the city where he applied for a marriage license. In order to avoid traveling to the Tzohar offices in Lod, he approached the religious council in his city, while his fiancée applied for her certificate in her hometown of Jerusalem.
"As soon as I walked into the office of the marriage registrar, Rabbi Shmuel Dov Rosenberg, he asked me for the file number," Shemo recounts. "When I told him I had opened the file with Tzohar, he responded angrily: 'Well, leave me alone and go to Tzohar.'
"I told him it was my right to issue the certificate wherever I live, but he insisted that he could not do it. I continued arguing with him, and he just said: 'I can't and I'm not wrong. Get out and close the door!'"
Tension between Tzohar, Rabbinate
After looking into the incident, the Religious Services Ministry claimed the religious council worker's refusal to issue a certificate of singleness had nothing to do with the fact that the marriage file was opened with Tzohar.
"The man arrived to register his marriage at the Petah Tikva Religious Council, failed to present the required documents and did not cooperate with the marriage registrar – for his own reasons," the ministry said in response. "It has nothing to do with the marrying rabbi and/or organization. If we receive other information, we will be happy to look into the matter."
The recent years have seen growing tensions between Tzohar rabbis and the Chief Rabbinate, especially conservative rabbis who maintain that the organization built itself at the expense of city and neighborhood rabbis.
According to the organization's opponents, Tzohar did not settle for granting friendly religious services for free, but chose to accuse other rabbis of receiving exaggerated payments (for conducting wedding ceremonies, for example) and treating their "customers" in a way which evokes negative sentiments towards religion.