I got a call this week from a couple who are trying to get married through the rabbinate. She’s from Ukraine, and was sent by the marriage registrar to the rabbinical court to “prove her jewishness.”

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No problem.

Well, the rabbinical court sent her to their private investigator.

No problem.

The investigator took one look at her documents (including her grandmother’s birth certificate) and said “these were reissued in the 1960s. We can’t trust documents like this.”



“My grandmother came on aliya.  She lives here and speaks Yiddish.  Why don’t you meet her?” says the prospective bride.

No problem.

The investigator writes a recommendation that says something like “She doesn’t have documents, but there’s a good chance she’s Jewish.”

No problem, right?

When the women is invited back to the rabbinical court, the judges ask to speak to the grandmother.

“Are you Jewish?”


“Did your mother light candles on Friday night?”


“Do you speak Yiddish?”


No problem…

“How do we know that you didn’t learn Yiddish recently, just to claim you were Jewish?”


“Oh.  Don’t worry about that.  I can sing in Yiddish. Do you know Da Yiddishe Mama?”

“No! No! No! ”

We’ve got a problem.

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