Human Rights, Bricolage and Social Change:
The Israeli Spousal Covenant Revisited
In this paper, based on official data, recent research and NGOs reports, I analyze the shift in the family institution that is occurring in Israel, following the bricolage of former Soviet Union (FSU) immigrants to promote their basic human right to marry, after the Spousal Covenant Act passed in 2010.
I first explain why in Israel, where marriages can only be contracted via religious laws, religion being a source of national identity and marker of inter-groups differences, the 2010 law creates ethnoracialized boundaries between orthodox Jews and one third of the 1,000.000 FSU newcomers. The reason is that though accepted as citizens, they are not accepted as Jews by the religious establishment. Thus, according to the 2010 law, they cannot marry orthodox Jews but can only marry one another.
Second, I point out the fact that till 2015, only 112 couples have married under the 2010 law. Actually, the FSU newcomers have taken, along with other Israeli citizens, existing alternative paths, like cohabitation or marriage abroad, both recognized by the Israeli law.
Third, I refer to the fact that this wide scale bricolage institutionalizes de facto civil marriage - a process that has highly contributed to the split in the Orthodox establishment, between "conservative” and “religious national" rabbis - the latter supporting "creative solutions” to the marriage issue in the context of a "liberalized Orthodoxy" to maintain power and authority.
I argue however, that this evolution, by fueling the privatization of religious processes, may open new avenues for the ethnoracialized family institution in Israel.
My conclusion deals with institutional bricolage, International Law, INGOs and Human Rights in the global era.