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Jewish Journal

‘Who is a Jew’ crisis moves into aliyah sphere

By Michele Chabin, N.Y. Jewish Week

February 17, 2011 | 4:38 pm

Thomas Dohlan, who converted to Judaism in an Orthodox Canadian beit din, never anticipated that Israel’s Interior Ministry might question his Jewishness and block his bid to make aliyah.

But that’s what is happening because of what appears to be a new policy that gives Israel’s Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate, and not the Interior Ministry, the ultimate authority to decide which Orthodox converts are kosher enough for immigration purposes.

The new policy is another sign of the Rabbinate’s strengthening power over Diaspora Jewish affairs, according to Rabbi Seth Farber, the director of ITIM, an organization that helps people deal with citizenship and religious issues in Israel.

“We’d heard that the Interior Ministry has been handing over some converts’ paperwork to the Rabbinate on an ad-hoc basis, but until last week this wasn’t a written policy,” Farber told The New York Jewish Week. “Now we have proof.”

Read more at thejewishweek.com/editorial.

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