Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Tammuz 5762 - June 13, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Immigrant Couples Will No Longer be Required to Prove They are Jewish in Order to Marry
by Betzalel Kahn

The State Prosecutor's Office notified the High Court last week that there are no grounds to prevent the abolishment of the special botei din commissioned by the Chief Rabbinate to verify whether immigrants registering for marriage through the rabbinate are indeed Jewish. The decision came in response to an appeal filed by the New Family Organization, which claims these botei din were never authorized to investigate whether immigrant marriage applicants are Jewish and, in the case of geirim, to investigate whether the giyur was performed in accordance with halochoh.

The State Prosecutor's Office said these botei din would now be optional. Since marriage registrars will no longer be required to refer immigrants for verification of their Jewishness, new concerns have arisen over yet another major breach that could allow more goyim into Kerem Beis Yisroel.

The Chief Rabbinate's legal counsel, Attorney Shimon Ulman, says the botei din were set up to avoid having to turn to regular botei din where the procedure is much longer. "Obviously the Rabbinate does not have to authorize the marriage of an individual whose Jewishness is questionable, and therefore in order to continue making the more convenient procedure available to immigrants, we have decided that marriage registrars will not be required to refer applicants to the botei din, and will inform them of two options: the regular Rabbinate beis din and the special rabbinical court," said Ulman, according to an article appearing in Ha'aretz.

The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, has over ten years' experience verifying Jewishness and maintains close ties with experts in the field. Based in its vast knowledge and experience, the Vaad says that properly checking out a person's Jewish identity can only be done by botei din with experience in this specific area, who work in conjunction with outside experts.

The Chief Rabbinate's marriage registration directives have prohibited immigrants who arrived in Israel after 1990 from marrying without proof of Jewishness from the local Rabbinate beis din or from the Vaad Birur Yahadus set up by the Chief Rabbinate. These directives were last updated in 1998.

The spokesman for the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur agreed with Ulman's remarks last week, saying the State Prosecutor's Office will merely create an impediment for immigrants trying to obtain the necessary certification. "Recently several politicians have taken over the marriage registration system in a number of important cities in Israel that lack an active chief rabbi and they marry immigrants without adhering to the accepted procedure. The Vaad hopes these breaches will be closed and that the Chief Rabbi will stand firm in marrying only couples whose Jewishness has been proven according to proper procedures."

According to Vaad figures, half a million non-Jews have immigrated from the former Soviet Union over the past twelve years. "This number exacerbates the severity of the problem of registering marriages in Israel," said the Vaad spokesman.


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