This looked interesting. Hat tip to the Failed Messiah blog for bringing it to my attention.
Is a person who is Jewish according to Jewish law necessarily considered Jewish by the State of Israel? The Interior Ministry has for years been saying no.
The Population Registry refuses to recognize as Jews people who do not enter the country as Jews, even when a recognized Israeli rabbinic court declares that person Jewish.
The Interior Ministry recognizes people as Jewish if they have certificates issued by rabbis of all denominations abroad. But the moment those people are in Israel, even Orthodox documentation will not help.
One person caught in this trap is Yehudit Weizman, an immigrant from Hungary who grew up Jewish, married a Jewish Israeli in a Jewish ceremony, and was recognized as Jewish according to halakha (Jewish law ) by a rabbinic court in Tiberias to boot. But the Interior Ministry defines her and her three children as people with “no religion.”
For the Interior Ministry, Weizman is a Christian, because her maternal grandmother converted to Christianity during World War II. She will only be registered as Jewish on her identity card, with all the concomitant legal implications, if she converts, the Interior Ministry told her. Even ultra-Orthodox rabbis, including those working for the state, have not made such a demand.
After such cases reached the High Court of Justice, the Interior Ministry agreed to a compromise under which it would recognize certain petitioners as Jews, although the court refused to set rules on the matter.
But relief may be on the way in the form of a bill, initiated by Tzohar, a group of moderate Orthodox rabbis. The bill is also supported by MKs from various backgrounds, including Knesset Interior Committee chairman MK David Azoulay (Shas ).
The bill would require the interior minister to recognize rulings by rabbinic courts acknowledging people as Jewish.
Tzohar says some 4,000 Israelis seek such recognition from rabbinic courts every year under a procedure known as “clarification of Judaism,” mainly so they can be married in a Jewish ceremony.
The current law allows only an “authorized court or tribunal” to invalidate information given to the Interior Ministry. The proposed bill would expand the court’s powers.
How this will ultimately play out should be interesting. My wife and daughter would be in pretty much the same place as Weissman, so I’ve got a personal interest in whether this law passes and how it plays out in the courts.
Hashem’s will be done. Shalom
- Moscow rabbi taking reins of European rabbis’ group (jta.org)
- Jewish Agency to approve Orthodox converts for aliyah (jta.org)