Israel Chief Rabbinate Rules Woman Who Was Baptized Is Eligible For Law of Return

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A Jewish woman from a remote village in Georgia, married to a gentile and who was baptized together with her children, went to the Supreme Beis Din in Jerusalem together with her children and demanded that they be identified as Jewish. She says she has maintained a Christian lifestyle all her life and has refused to undergo a halachic giyur, as is customary for every Jew who converted and wants to return to Judaism.

The woman applied to the Supreme Beis Din after the Regional Beis Din rejected her request to register as a Jew in order to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return and decided not to allow her to undergo a return to Judaism, as she continues to lead a Christian life.

The woman appealed to the beis din, which was required to deal with the complex issue of defining Judaism for a woman born to a Jewish mother, but in practice converted to Christianity and lived with her Christian husband.

Members of the Supreme Beis Din, Dayanim Rabbi Eliezer Igra, Rabbi Aharon Katz and Rabbi Shmuel Shapira sat for a long time on the matter and finally published a 46-page halachic ruling that embraces halachic and legal history in regarding the definition of Judaism.

The Supreme Beis Din decided to accept her appeal and instruct the Interior Ministry to register her as a Jew, despite the fact that the Law of Return states that it does not apply to a person who has converted voluntarily and who is not of another religion.

The ruling extensively reviews the issue of intermarriage from the times of Ezra and Nechemia and the ‘Olei Bavel’ who arrived in Israel all the way to the immigrants of our time. The ruling also refers extensively to the issue of assimilation throughout history and to the present day.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




4 COMMENTS

  1. The reason to question the story is that the issue is one within the scope of the government’s regular courts, not the government’s rabbinical courts.

    Is she a Baales Tsuvah? The article seems to suggest she is still a practicing Christian, in which the case the law in Israel is settled that she can’t immigrate under the Law of Return, but in which case it seems absurd the government Bet Din would want to help her. If she is moving to Israel with her children, where is her husband? And which “Georgia” is she from (the one located east of the Black Sea which had a substantial Jewish population, or the one in the American south)?

  2. It would be helpful to know more about the circumstances of this case. Did she convert to marry? Did her husband decide or dictate the non-Jewish education of the children (who are Jewish), and is her husband being allowed to immigrate too? What does R. Chaim say about this case?