'The Rabbinate is challenging the very underpinnings of Zionism by placing the personal status of every Jew in doubt'
Citing intermarriage threat, Israeli rabbis
‘blacklist’ families deemed not Jewish
Activists claim the chief rabbinate is holding an ‘Inquisition’ as long-time immigrants to Israel are now under the Jewish identity lens
BY ANDREW TOBIN
February 6, 2017
TEL AVIV (JTA) — Yael knew she would have to prove she was Jewish. But she never expected that trying to get married would turn into a nearly yearlong investigation of her family.
In the end Yael, who asked to go by a pseudonym to protect her privacy, was barred from marrying in Israel, along with her mother and older brother. Although they had long ago immigrated to this country as Jews, their lineage did not check out with the state religious authorities.
“Having an official Jewish wedding was always important to me,” she said. “Now I feel like a second-class citizen. It’s very upsetting to me. It’s very upsetting to my family.”
Over the years, the Orthodox rabbis who control marriage in Israel have become increasingly stringent about checking who is a Jew. More and more marriage applicants have been sent to rabbinical courts to be vetted. And just last month, those courts claimed the authority to put marriage applicants’ families on trial, too.
Anyone found not to be Jewish is added to a marriage “blacklist,” as happened to Yael and her family.
Last month, lawyers from ITIM, a nonprofit that helps people navigate Israel’s religious bureaucracy, appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem on behalf of Yael’s mother and brother, as well as family members blacklisted in two other cases. ITIM lawyers argued that the rabbinical courts had acted outside their legal jurisdiction by adjudicating people’s Jewishness without their consent.
Because Jewishness is passed down from mother to child, the rabbinical courts bring in siblings or matrilineal relatives of marriage applicants and typically issue a ruling that applies to everyone. According to experts, this has been going on for least a decade and routinely for the past year and a half.
Rabbi Seth Farber, the director of ITIM, said the chief rabbinate — which officially controls much of Jewish life in Israel and oversees the rabbinical courts — is waging a destructive “inquisition.”
“The Rabbinate is challenging the very underpinnings of Zionism by placing the personal status of every Jew in doubt,” he said. “Instead of being a place that’s welcoming to Jews, it has become a place that is looking to undermine Jewish identity.”
More, here: http://www.timesofisrael.com/citing-int ... ot-jewish/
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