Couples’ ketubahs ‘not legitimate’?

wedding A requirement of Orthodox weddings is that two Torah-observant male witnesses sign the ketubah.

One couple may need to have a second Jewish wedding ceremony and another wedding is being scrutinised amid claims the officiating rabbi failed to meet halachic standards.

TWO couples may be forced to conduct their Jewish wedding services again because their marital status may not be recognised by a majority of Orthodox rabbis across the world.

The couples, who were married in Melbourne by Ark Centre’s Rabbi Shneur Reti-Waks, are believed to be unaware of the halachic issues that have arisen as a result of the way their marriage ceremonies were conducted.

A requirement of Orthodox weddings is that two Torah-observant male witnesses sign the ketubah, the Jewish marriage agreement. The witnesses must be over the age of bar mitzvah and must not be related to the bride, groom or each other.

One couple, who were married earlier this year, have had their wedding under investigation by the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) for the past four months.

One of the witnesses has told the RCV that he is Shomer Shabbat, but photographic evidence supplied to the RCV has led the council to believe that the person posts on Facebook on Shabbat and that he would not qualify to be a kosher witness at a wedding.

Meanwhile, a witness at another wedding ceremony conducted by Rabbi Reti-Waks has told The AJN that he is not Torah-observant and didn’t realise he had to be. 

“The rabbi didn’t ask if I kept Shabbat and I didn’t know that it was a requirement,” said the witness, who asked to remain anonymous for the sake of the couple.

“I would have thought if it was one of the rules, then the rabbi would have checked I met the required standards.”

The AJN asked Rabbi Reti-Waks if two Shomer Shabbat witnesses are required to sign a ketubah, if he asks witnesses if they are Shomer Shabbat and what steps, if any, he takes to ensure witnesses qualify, but the rabbi declined to answer. 

He simply said the appropriate place to discuss halachic matters was at the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and not in the pages of a newspaper.

Senior dayan of the Melbourne Beth Din Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick told The AJN that if any part of a marriage did not comply with halachah then it is not legitimate.

“Whoever performed the marriage would have to do it again covering the problematic issues that arose at the first ceremony,” Rabbi Gutnick said.

“If both parties were single people then they would be able to get married again and even though any children may have been born out of wedlock, they are still Jewish and there are no halachic issues for the children,” he added.

JOSHUA LEVI