Israel’s Orthodox Jewry and the Law of Return Will Bibi’s new government yield to minority demands to restrict Aliyah?

by | Mar 14, 2023 | March / April 2023

Since 1950, every Jew has had the legal right to live in Israel as an “oleh,” an immigrant who “made Aliyah” under Israel’s Law of Return. In 1970, the right to make Aliyah was extended to spouses of Jews even if they were not considered Jewish under Orthodox Jewish law. That remains the law of the Land, but not its reality. The spirit and intent of the Law of Return has long been frustrated by administrative maneuvering within Israel’s Ministry of Interior (MOI). After Israel’s most recent election, making Aliyah may become even more difficult for the grandchildren of Jews and Messianic Believers in the Diaspora.

For quite some time in Israel, it has been trying, time consuming, frustrating, often expensive, and practically impossible for Messianic Believers and their Jewish relatives to make Aliyah. Consider the example of Nathan, whose parents are known Messianics who had lived in Israel for decades.

When Nathan and his family arrived in Israel years ago as American tourists desiring to become citizens, their acceptance should have been straightforward. But their request was rejected by the MOI because, the ministry claimed, Nathan shared the same beliefs as his parents. He was therefore disqualified from Aliyah by an exception in Jewish immigration law known as “the conversion clause.”

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