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It’s more about St. Valentine than St. Patrick in Israel this week, as some couples finally got the right to get married there even if they don’t meet the country’s strict standards for a religious ceremony.

In the past, Jews who wanted to wed non-Jews or otherwise did not qualify for or want a traditional ceremony had to go to another country — often the neighboring island of Cyprus, which doubles as a honeymoon destination — for a civil ceremony. Now the Knesset, Israel’s governing body, has voted to allow some civil unions, though The Jerusalem Post reports that concerns remain over whether this legislation will end up increasing the Chief Rabbinate’s powers after all.

Aphrodite's Rock.jpg

No word yet from my Cypriot sources on whether this is expected to make a significant dent in tourism. Given that Cyprus is the birthplace of Aphrodite (photo above shows the spot where the mythological goddess of love emerged from the Mediterranean Sea), I’m sure some of Israel’s lovers will still make the 200-mile trip west — especially since the JTA estimates the bill will probably only apply to 10 percent of the couples who want a civil wedding. Plus, there’s still a wedding tourism market for Lebanese couples, who also have to leave their country if they want civil ceremonies. 

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