Bintel Blog

Israel’s ‘Non-Jewish Jews’

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

The JTA has a great story on the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who came to Israel under its Law of Return, and yet are not officially regarded as Jews by the state because their mothers are not Jewish. They live in Jewish society, many have Jewish ancestry and identify as Jews, they serve in the army, and yet they have to travel abroad to get married (at least if they’re marrying someone who is defined as a Jew under halacha, since the Chief Rabbinate has a monopoly on marriage, and won’t allow a Jew to marry someone who is not Jewish under halacha).

The JTA’s Dina Kraft does a great job of humanizing an issue that is a great challenge for the Jewish state, and for the entire Jewish people. (Although some of Kraft’s descriptions of her subjects’ ancestries are quite confusing.)

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

For Vera Gorman, 21, whose family immigrated to Israel from Russia seven years ago and whose mother’s grandfather was Jewish, the sting of exclusion hit for the first time when it came time to marry.

In Israel, where there is no civil marriage, all citizens must be married by clergymen, and Jewish clergy are not allowed to perform intermarriages. Vera is Jewish but the man she planned on marrying, Maxim Gorman, was not, so there was no way for the couple to get married in Israel. Instead, they had to go to Prague. Marriages abroad are recognized in Israel.

Vera said she and Maxim were angry and bewildered by the rules.

Maxim, 25, who served in an IDF combat unit and twice was injured in fighting in Gaza, said he does not understand why, if he spilled blood for his country, he had to go to abroad on the most important day of his life.

“It was especially hard because although I am not Jewish according to halachah, I do feel Jewish in my heart,” he said. “In my opinion, state and religion simply do not go together. Israel needs to be democratic and Jewish, and we need to protect our traditions because this is what unites us. But we live in the 21st century and we need to be going forward.”

Read the full article..

One aspect of this huge topic that the article touches on only briefly is the portion of this population that practices Christianity or displays Christmas trees. Secularist Israeli poltico Yossi Paritsky recently wrote an article for Yediot Aharanot lamenting the growing visibility of Christmas trees in Israel and arguing that those who practice Christianity shouldn’t be allowed to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Israel

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Caute Mon. Dec 31, 2007

I read both articles. In my opinion, the dilemma points up the fundamental problem with Zionism, which is that it tries to fit a religious-national identity into a strictly political one. Of course, the fundamental problem with religion is that there is no God, and Communism is merely the mirror image of the Zionist utopia from the left wing of the political spectrum.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.