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May 20, 2014

Proposed law: rabbis working for tips

If the job description of "city rabbi" includes officiating at weddings for constituents, then he should not be allowed to charge a fee, or take a tip, for providing such a service. If it is not part of the official job description, then he shouldn't be forced by the law to work for free. Because it is part of the job description, there is no reason they should be charging for a service they are already paid to perform.

MK Shuley Muallem (Habayit Hayehudi) proposed a law that would prevent city rabbis from charging fees for officiating at weddings. As well, it would put an end to the giving of tips, as those are sometimes conveyed as being obligated rather than just a nice thing - if the law passes, the rabbi won't be allowed to take any money.

The proposal was passed by the Knesset committee responsible for it, and will be moved along to be prepared for voting in the Knesset.

MK Miri Regev (Likud Beyteynu) wants to adjust the law regarding filing fees for a marriage license. It seems there is no standard, and different offices charge different amounts, even as high as 700NIS. Regev thinks this should be standardized and regulated, as "Where are young couples supposed to get that kind of money? It is too much of a burden for them"

I am not sure that is a real reason for regulation. It should be regulated because fees for government services should be standardized and not up to a clerk in any given office to determine. Just because some people cannot afford it? They can afford the tens of thousands of shekels for the various parties, but not the 700nis registration fee? Should we give out cars and computers for free, or for regulated prices, because some people cannot afford them? I am not very impressed with the argument, though I agree it needs regulation?

And once we are banning rabbis from taking tips, I think waiters and waitresses should not be allowed to take tips either. The restaurant owners take advantage of their employees via the tip jar. There is no reason I should pay for my meal and then have to pay another 12-15 percent. Pay waiters and waitresses a decent salary, and work the expense of salaries into the price displayed on the menu. Why should only rabbis be banned from taking tips?

And once on the topic, {humor alert!} the only profession that cannot possibly be banned from working for tips is a mohel. ba-da-bang!

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  1. Kudos to Rabbi David Lau


  2. When menachem begin (and yitzchak shamir) got rid of the various mapam subsidies, the one subsidy they kept was the wedding ring.

    You want to tell me it costs another silly fee to file for the wedding (I:ll stay out of the tip issue.)?

  3. I'm just adding more questions:
    What does the position city rabbi entail? Is it like a community rabbi who is 'expected' to be on call 24/7?
    Not all city rabbis make gazillions each month, and the rules have changed to that a city rabbi is paid much less than the veterans. Is there no overtime pay? So for 15000 bruto, take home about 8000, and we would want to have older rabbis with kids, how are city rabbis supposed to live AND also be expected to do weddings each night for free?

    1. Yes - that is the expectation. It is a supply and demand market, and I can almost guarantee that they are making more in this job (including benefits) than almost all other opportunities that they would have in the rabbinate. If they do not want the job, there is a long line of people who will happily perform all of these duties in their stead.

    2. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a fair salary for the amount of work expected. If the city rabbi really is 24/7, needs to go to funerals, shivas, weddings, open office for visitors, kashrut, shiurim, is 7000 for starting rabbis going to be enough? I agree, the line is long, but after a year, will the rabbi be bitter? Does his own prestige put food on the table, or will we start seeing rabbis families get gifts and handouts? I say, pay them well. Even senior city hall managers do not work as hard as a good city rabbi is expected.

  4. They shouldn't take tips (or get paid at all) because they get a government salary to do this. It's really that simple.

    Tzohar rabbis take nothing even though they don't get paid otherwise. (This also explains why they have to stress being on time and not doing more than one a day. If you're getting money, you'll try to do as many as possible, and thus you'll be late.)

    1. Tzohar rabbis are volunteers and do a great job but they can pick and choose when to appear. I don't know if they are even required a quota. City rabbis might be expected to perform each night. Certainly overtime should be considered, weddings also disrupt routine shiurim (who will replace them for free?)
      Somehow, there should be a system to regulate how much the city rabbi and neighbourhood rabbi need to do, and when to outsource.


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