Join 3,523 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How can I become an Israeli citizen?
November 17, 2009 12:57 PM   Subscribe

My father is Jewish and my mother not. I was bar mitzvahed in a reform synagogue. What are my options for becoming an Israeli citizen?

Is there any way I qualify for the right of return? How hard is it to get citizenship by naturalization compared to via right of return?
posted by nohat to Law & Government (16 answers total)
 
The law gives the right of return to those born Jews (having a Jewish mother or maternal grandmother), those with Jewish ancestry (having a Jewish father or grandfather) and converts to Judaism...
posted by Behemoth at 1:11 PM on November 17, 2009


You certainly qualify under the Law of Return, having one Jewish parent as you do (the rubric IIRC is having one Jewish grandparent).

Ask your nearest Israeli consulate or embassy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2009


You should talk to the consulate, of course, but I'm pretty sure you're good to go.
For immigration purposes, Israel uses the Nuremberg definition: i.e. anyone the Nazis would have persecuted for being Jewish is jewish enough to get in.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2009


I'm not Israeli -- or Jewish -- but could your father qualify and then grandfather (or father, I guess) you in?
posted by oinopaponton at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2009


Contact the Israeli consulate in NYC and ask them this question
posted by dfriedman at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2009


*Eligibility requirements

Those who immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return are immediately entitled to citizenship. However, differences of opinion have arisen as to whether a person who claims citizenship under the Law of Return should be automatically registered as "Jewish" for census purposes. According to the halakhic definition, a person is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, or if he or she converts to Judaism. Charedi citizens of Israel generally do not recognize conversions performed by Reform or Conservative Judaism. However, the Law provides that any Jew regardless of affiliation may migrate to Israel and claim citizenship.

Originally, the Law of Return was restricted to Jews only. A 1970 amendment, however, stated that, "The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law... are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew".*

Your mother is not Jewish, you did not convert, hence you aren't Jewish according to Jewish Law. If you would want to become a citizen of Israel - you'd have to become one according to the requirements of the State.
posted by watercarrier at 1:15 PM on November 17, 2009


"For the purposes of this Law [of Return], "Jew" means a person who was born of a Jewish mother, or has converted to Judaism and is not a member of another religion."

More info on your options here
posted by IanMorr at 1:16 PM on November 17, 2009


You will have no problem becoming an Israeli citizen if your father is Jewish.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2009


I am in the same position (have a Jewish farther and non-Jewish mother) and I have immigrated to Israel and now am an Israeli citizen. To simplify the qualifications for the right of return, you have to have at least one Jewish grandmother to be eligible, or be an immediate family member of a such person (spouse or child) and immigrate as a part of the family, or be converted into Judaism. In my case, for example, myself, my spouse, and my children immigrated together based on my eligibility and we all became Israeli citizens. So you are good to go.
By the way, you do not need Israeli visa to enter Israel for purpose of immigration according to right of return, but you will have to demonstrate that you are qualified. Therefore it is advisable to check whatever documents confirming your eligibility in Israeli consulate first.
posted by m1dra3 at 1:43 PM on November 17, 2009


A 1970 amendment, however, stated that, "The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law... are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew".

watercarrier, you're missing that the questioner is the child of a Jew--the father.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:45 PM on November 17, 2009


You shouldn't have much problem becoming an Israeli citizen. However, you may have some serious issues being recognized as "Jewish" for status purposes by the State and religious authorities within the State, and that is something serious to consider. You may not be able to marry a Jewish woman in Israel unless you convert to Judaism according to Orthodox traditions.

I'd contact IRAC (IRAC), which is the Israeli political arm of the Reform Movement, just to get an idea of what else it entails. They probably can tell you a lot more than any of us, but being Jewish for citizenship, but not status, purposes in Israel is sort of a clusterf**k.
posted by j1950 at 1:47 PM on November 17, 2009


However, you may have some serious issues being recognized as "Jewish" for status purposes by the State and religious authorities within the State, and that is something serious to consider. You may not be able to marry a Jewish woman in Israel unless you convert to Judaism according to Orthodox traditions.

very true, though some workarounds exist.
posted by m1dra3 at 1:58 PM on November 17, 2009


My understanding is that if the Nazis would have counted you as Jewish, then you get to immigrate and get citizenship.
posted by jb at 2:29 PM on November 17, 2009


Correct. If it's important to you to have your te'udat zehut indicate that you are Jewish, however, things get a bit more complicated.

In that case, you will either have to undergo an in-state conversion under the auspices of the official Israeli Rabbinate, or find an American Orthodox rabbi whose conversions are considered legitimate by the Rabbinate. It's a bit of a pain, but ever since the floods of immigrants from the FSU, the Israeli government has worked hard to ensure that an avenue (bureaucratic nightmare though it may be) exists for new immigrants who want to be considered Jewish by the Jewish State.

(Jewish status may not be personally relevant to your own religious observance, but consider that the Rabbinate controls all state life-cycle functions, like marriage and burial - so it may be worth your while to get answers to these questions as soon as possible).
posted by AngerBoy at 2:56 PM on November 17, 2009


Just curious, but I've always wondered about this. How does someone prove they are Jewish, or that their parents were?
posted by Joleta at 8:25 PM on November 17, 2009


@Joleta: A declaration by a council of rabbinical judges (called a "Bet Din") is sufficient for proof. If you present genealogical evidence to convince them, they'll sign off.

OP: I think that it would be easiest to perform a "conversion" stateside than to hammer things out within Israel. I find that American rabbis are, in general, more pragmatic. If you find an "acceptable" orthodox rabbi (by the Israeli rabbinate's definition), it should be easy to ask him to sign off on a bar mitzvah (which would only require you to show up for a Friday service in which the congregation can fit you in to do a reading), and a mikvah (which can be done at any time). I'm making some assumptions here about you, so hopefully this isn't as hard for you to do as I've laid out.

Good luck!
posted by Citrus at 10:38 AM on November 18, 2009


« Older NYC Filter: What's fun to do i...   |  I'm starting a blog about ques... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.