According to Jewish tradition, the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot (the count of the omer) are a time of mourning during which it is customary not to cut or shave one’s hair or perform weddings. Among Mizrahi Jews, it is customary to get married after the 33rd day of the omer, but among the more stringent Ashkenazi communities it is customary to marry only after Shavuot, with the exception of only a few days – the day before the 33rd day of the Omer and the beginnings of the new months during the omer. Consequently, Shavuot marks the beginning of wedding season which lasts until the fall.
In 2007, the median age at first marriage for men in Israel (i.e., 50% of bridegrooms are older and 50% younger than the median age) was 27.8. The median age at marriage varies by religious affiliation and was 26.0 among Muslims, 26.4 among Druze, 27.6 among Jews and 29.1 among Christians.
Generally speaking, brides tend to be younger than bridegrooms. The median age at first marriage for women in Israel was 24.8 – 20.7 among Muslims, 21.4 among Druze, 24.1 among Christians and 25.3 among Jews.
A longitudinal comparison shows a steady rise of the median age at marriage. In 1980, the median age at first marriage for Jewish men was 24.8; by 2007 it was 27.6. Similarly, the median age at first marriage for Jewish women was 22.0 in 1980 but 25.3 in 2007. The rise of the median age at marriage can be attributed, among other factors, to the growing desire to achieve higher education and professional development before getting married and having kids.
In 2008, 55% of people aged 15 or older both in Israel and in Jerusalem were married. Of localities with populations of 10,000 or more, Tel Aviv (43%), Eilat (45%), and Be’er Ya’akov (47%) had the lowest percentage of married individuals. Of the ten localities with the highest percentage of married individuals, 4 were Ultra-Orthodox localities and 3 more were national-religious. The highest percentage of married individuals – 81%-85% — was found in Talmon (a small, national-religious community) as well as Elad, Modi’in Illit and Beitar Illit, 3 heavily Ultra-Orthodox localities.
The percentage of married individuals in a locality, it should be noted, is influenced by social or cultural factors as well as other factors, such as the age of the population (as in, for example, a high proportion of individuals between the ages of 15-24).
Sources: Population and Housing Census 2008, Statistical Abstract of Israel 2008, Central Bureau of Statistics