Marriages in Israel can be performed only under the auspices of the religious community to which couples belong, and no religious intermarriages can be performed legally in Israel. Matrimonial law is based on the Millet or confessional community system employed in the Ottoman Empire, which was not modified during the British Mandate and remains in force in the State of Israel.
In addition to the respective faiths of Jewish, Muslim and Druze communities in Israel, Israel recognizes ten distinct denominations of Christianity. Marriages in each community are under the jurisdiction of their own religious authorities. The religious authority for Jewish marriages performed in Israel is the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Rabbinical courts. The Israeli Interior Ministry registers marriages on presentation of proper documentation. Israel’s religious authorities — the only entities authorized to perform weddings in Israel — are prohibited from marrying couples unless both partners share the same religion. Therefore, interfaith couples can be legally married in Israel only if one of the partners converts to the religion of the other. However, civil, interfaith and same-sex marriages entered into abroad are recognised by the state.
It is illegal under Penal Law Amendment (Bigamy) Law, 5719 (1959), to marry in Israel while already married. This applies to members of each confessional community, including the Jewish and Muslim. Polygyny is nevertheless still practiced in the Bedouin community, where about 25% of men are believed to have more than one wife.
In 2013, the minimum marriage age in Israel was raised to 18, from a previous age of 17. Previously, the marriage age was 18 for males and 17 for females, before they were equalised at 17 years.