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Jewish Journal

Question of who is a Jew in Israeli immigration

by Brad A. Greenberg

February 21, 2011 | 6:53 am

No wrinkle in the who-is-a-Jew debate. This time concerning who can make aliyah. From the Jewish Week:

a new policy that gives Israel’s Orthodox 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. ...

While the Rabbinate already has the authority to determine whether a convert who underwent an Orthodox conversion abroad may marry in Israel (it refuses to marry Reform and Conservative Jews altogether), it has never before been authorized to decide who can immigrate because aliyah is governed by civil law.

In the past, all immigrants were required to bring documentation to the Interior Ministry showing that they were eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return. With few exceptions, that law permits anyone who can prove he/she had at least one Jewish grandparent to make aliyah.

Now that consistency appears to be in peril because the Interior Minister is handing some cases over the the Rabbinate. Read more here.

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