Aliya experts: Aliya for Reform converts

Vol LIV: I converted to Judaism (Reform) in the United States while pursing my graduate studies. Will I be able to make Aliya to Israel?

By MAURICE SINGER, STAFF
September 30, 2007 12:20
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The experts include Maurice Singer and his team at the Global Center of the Jewish Agency. While every care and attention is made to give accurate answers, no responsibility can be taken by the writer or the Jewish Agency if the information offered may prove to be misleading. Send us your questions.

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  • For Vols XLVIII to Lclick here. * * * Vol LIV Q: When I requested Aliya, the Missrad ha Pnim and the Jewish Agency in my area checked my conversion documents and accepted them. After that my request now was 'frozen' - means neither accepted nor rejected - by the interior ministry in Jerusalem, because of new criteria for Aliya for converts. AS I understood one criteria is that I would have been actively involved in the activities of the community where I converted for at least 9 months after conversion, which I was not because I moved to a new community that time. Does the rejection of Aliyah mean that I will be officially declared 'not Jewish', as the Interior Ministry told me? But I became Jewish when I made giur and accepted the ,mizvot, and no one can say because I moved to a new place, where I was also actively involved, that I am less Jewish. Since I am, feel, and live as an observing Jew, do I really have to write 'Atheist' or whatever in official documents, as the Interior Ministry told me? I cannot do it, sorry! A: The Ministry of Interior does not decide who is Jewish or not. They check whether the regulations required for making Aliyah are being adhered. If the requirement to get an Oleh visah= is 12 months , then they won't issue the visa to someone who only has 9 months. This has nothing to do with feelings. It's just a pity that the ministry's clerks are so overworked and underpaid because this really is such a delicate matter. Q: I converted to Judaism (Reform) in the United States while pursing my graduate studies. I will be returning to my home country (India) in about a year. Once I return to India, will I be able to make Aliyah to Israel?  A: If your coversion was made with a recognized reform Rabbi, part of the Reform movement and if you can show active involvement within the Jewish Community then there should be no reason why your Aliyah application shouldn't be processed. Q: My wife has received her Israeli citizenship due to her mother who was an Israeli. I was told by the consulate officials here in Istanbul that my children aged 16 and 17 cannot get the citizenship immediately as my wife was born outside of Israel. What are the conditions to get Israeli citizenship and, being her husband, what are my requirements to fulfill? A: You children are Israeli by descent and not by birth which is why they cannot get citizenship immediately. If they make Aliyah they will get Israeli citizenship. * * * Vol LIII Q: My family is going to Israel in December for a visit (we have been numerous times) and to explore Aliya. I am somewhat apprehensive as I am middle-aged and my knowledge of Hebrew is poor. I am social worker in the area of chronic care and my husband (whose knowledge of Hebrew is much better) works in the high-tech field of building automation. My daughter has a very good understanding of Hebrew. Where should we start to explore the idea of Aliya from Canada when in Israel? We would like to like a community with mixed religious/secular Israelis. A: A good way to start would be by contacting your immigrant organization; the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel www.aaci.org Arrange a meeting with them at the start of your visit and they should be able to direct you to what you need to see. Q: I am a Swedish citizen and a Christian, but with certain Jewish heritage on my mother's side. However, it dates back too long in time for me to be considered Jewish. I have a strong love for the Jewish people and for Israel and am very active for Israel in my Jewish community. I have considered moving to Israel to live and work there for a few years, but without converting. I have a Master's degree in political science with a focus on combating antSemitism and cyber-terrorism. Is it possible to move to Israel and work there without doing aliyah? And if yes, is it very difficult? For example I could come to Israel on a tourist visa, apply for jobs and if I do get one, arrange for a work permit after that? A: Yes if you have a letter from an employer in Israel them it will be up to the Israeli Ministry of Interior to grant you a work permit or nor. Q: I was born in Israel and moved away to Austria as a child (2 years old). I am considering returning to Israel. Can I make Aliya or is it toshav chozer? A: It depends on how long you have stayed in Israel during various visits. Why not call the Global Center toll-free from Austria 0 800 281 587. They will be happy to assist. Q: What would you consider is a fair amount needed for retirement in Israel at today's cost of living, considering a rental place for living in the central part of the country? A: Retirement means spending the rest of your life (120 years!!) in Israel. My best advice: come on a short exploratory visit. Go to a couple of realtors, check the type of apartment you can expect to rent with your budget. Go to a supermarket and pretend to do a weekly shop. Visit the AACI and speak to one of their councelors. Check with them the costs of utilities, insurances, medical health etc. At the end of this visit you should have an idea. Q: Why is it so difficult for an oleh, even one speaking very good Hebrew, and with many years of excellent professional experience in the IT field, to find a job or be invited to interview? Why would such a person, in the rare case that a job interview does materialise, and this only seems to happen through personal friendly connections, be offered minimum wage or close to it?  Please don't come back with information about job websites or government offices (these are staffed by Russian speakers and quite useless). A: As about 20% of the population are immigrants from the FSU, it is not surprising that one hears so much Russian spoken in Israel today. I wish we could persuade a million Americans to do the same. There are several well-run employment agencies in Israel who specialize in Hi-tech and English speakers. I suggest that when in Israel you make contact with them. The advantage is that they will give you an indication of the salary being offered and the type of person they require. You don't mention your age but in hi-tech age is a major factor. I have no idea of your age but if you for example are in your fifties and the team are in their early thirties, they probably will not be interested irrespective of your qualifications and experience. Q: I am considering making aliyah from Mexico but am concerned about finding a job in my field. I would like to work in the media, as a journalist or a political analyst. Do you have any information about finding something in this field? I have found websites for other fields but not the media. Thanks. A: You don't mention in which language you work. It is not easy to get into the English media as the competition is great and therefore the pay is poor. The ideal situation would be to try and set something up with the Mexican media before you come here. As a "stringer" it would provide a base from where to begin. Q: I am an Orthodox convert, and made aliyah right after my conversion. My son who is not Jewish, is willing to join me here in Israel. Could you please tell me what the requirements are? A: It depends on the age of your son and if you are his only parent. Contact the global center 1800228055. Q: It would be my dream to make Aliyah to Israel, however, I wonder if it would be possible: I'm a convert (reform) and I have HIV. Would I not be allowed to make Aliyah due to my medical condition? A: Yes, as HIV is not contagious unless there is a specific type of physical contact. Q: I am married to an Israeli citizen.  We have been married 3.5 years. We live in Tampa FL at the present time. My husband wants to move back to Israel. How do I become a citizen?  I am not Jewish. A: You need to enter Israel as a regular tourist. Later on, in Israel,you will need to apply to the Israeli authorities for a more permanent visa. * * * Vol LII Q: My father-in-law is Israeli by birth and has been living in the US for some 40+ years. He is 72. His wife is 60. They wish to make aliyah next year. Will they be able to get health insurance? Even with pre-existing conditions? Can she get all her rights even if he is an Israeli Citizen? Does he have rights? A: From what you have written, your father in law is an Israeli and as such will be considered a Returning resident. This means that there will be a waiting period before he will get health coverage in Israel. If you mother makes Aliyah by the Law of Return, then she will have full coverage . Q: I converted Masorti in August 2005, then 10 months later I went to Israel for 1 year for Ulpan, after I returned to my community where I converted. DO I need to wait a full year to apply for aliyah or just a few extra months since apparently the Interior Ministry is enforcing the 1 year rule still? A: It is up to the Ministry to decide but if you have already spent 10 months abroad since your conversion, by the time you finish the Aliyah processing you should be acceptable by the Ministry of Interior. Q: I have been an Australian Citizen since 1993 but I am also an Israeli citizen. I have to visit Israel but my Israeli passport has long expired. Can I enter Israel with my Australian Passport? A: Why not just renew your Israeli passport. Israel requires you to enter and leave Israel on an Israeli passport just like Australia requires you to leave and enter on an Australian one. Q: My wife and I both recently had gastric bypass surgery and as a result we both no longer have diabetes, hypertension and our prescription meds are no longer like M&Ms. We've lost together, over 100 kilos and feel great. Are there any bariatric services available in Israel for follow-up as we have an aliyah date of summer' 08. Todah rabah A: Bariatric surgery is certainly performed in Israel. We suggest that you bring both your full medical records with you when you make Aliyah. Meanwhile discuss this with your Aliyah shaliach who will also probably want copies of your medical history. Q: It's been 15 years since my Aliya and in desperation feel it necessary to own my own apartment. I am a single woman and would like to know if I still qualify for assistance like a "tik zekahut" and/or financial aid of sorts. A: Yes you do if you have never previously owned a property in Israel. You should enquire at either the mortgage section of your own bank or at a Mortgage bank. It will not be eligibility zakaut) as an Olah but as an Israeli which is about the same today. Q: Hi. Made Aliyah in 1980, left in 91 (after three years of the first initifada), but never used my Oleh rights. If I return today, can I use them or are they lost forever? I still have my Teudat Oleh (empty) and my TaZ and just renewed my Israeli passport A: Rights are concessions, you either use them or lose them. You lived in Israel for 11 years. You are an Israeli and as such a Returning Resident. * * * Vol LI Q: Hi, we legally got married 2 years ago in Massachusetts (USA). It was a civil, and not a religious ceremony. My spouse is not Jewish (I am) and is the same sex as me. Can we both make aliyah? A: Your spouse is not included under the Law of return and therefore you cannot both make aliyah. The law of Return was written years before same sex marriages and there has been no recent changes. Reader's comment: Your answer regarding same-sex couples is not quite accurate and quite out of date. Same sex partners of an Israeli citizen can get legal status in Israel. Moreover, currently, the court ordered registration of same-sex marriage and hence, awarding all rights tied to such registration. You can refer any questions to us at info@glbt.org.il. Mike Hamel Q: I am an English only speaking attorney and am 56 years old. My daughter is an Israeli soldier, and my son, a doctor, is engaged to an Israeli girl. If I make aliya, what are my chances of finding work, either practicing law or as a social worker or teacher ? A: Teaching English to adults seems to me to be your best bet. There are quite a few schools that specialize in this here in Israel. Q: If I want to serve in an elite unit like sayeret or paratroopers and join when i'm twenty one, will I need my mother's permission?(I have one sister) A: No, because you are not an only child. Still you should try and get her approval, she is your Mum. Q: My question is : do I have any rights as an oleh, as i emigrated to Israel in February 1959 as a 19 year old, I never received a teudat oleh and in MAY that same year I enrolled in the IDF. After my service of 2 1/2 years I left Israel and was never in Israel longer than 2 weeks, less than the mandatory 3 years to lose my right as an new oleh. I have never received an answer, even after all these years and after many attempts to clarify my status with any authority in Israel or shaliah in the USA. The answer was always 'we have no laws concerning someone in your situation'. Can you tell me what my rights are if I return to Israel? The answer as a toshav hozer is not the right one because i never lived in Israel for 7 years that are mandatory to be a returning citizen. Thank you, please answer me as soon as you are able. A: Are you asking out of curiosity or do you really want to live in Israel? According to our calculations you are now 67 years old. And quite honestly the differences in benefits for you if you are considered a Oleh "dragging" benefits or a returning citizen are very small. Toshav Chozer defines certain benefits even if the person has not lived in Israel at all!! If you still have all the documents and passports from 1959 there should be no reason not to be able to clarify the real situation. Q: I am a 51 year-old married male with 2 teenage children. As a 5-10 year goal, I would like to make aliya to Israel. My work experience is in banking/commercial finance. I would like to go to Israel sooner, if I could get employment, preferably not in my current field. Teaching perhaps? I only have a rudimentary knowledge of Hebrew. Other than having a passion for Israel, I am not sure what I could contribute to society or how I could make a living there. Any suggestions regarding how someone like me can explore options in Israel? A: Your greatest contribution would be to encourage your children to be part of Israel. Teaching English sounds the best approach. We strongly suggest that you visit before making any life changing decisions. Q: I have been classed as an OLAH BASHEINIT by one of your Misradei Hapnim, I would like to know if I have any entitlements to any Sechuyot. I would like to know if I can get onto the Kupat Cholim when I come on Aliyah next year. That is my main concern. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Many thanks. A: Oleh Beshenit means similar benefits as Returning residents. K Holim will be available after a waiting period. Q: Do converts through liberal Judaism have equal rights for aliyah like orthodox conversions? A: Yes, all the same rights. Q: My husband is both a returning citizen & Jewish; I am neither. We plan to move to Israel in January. It is my understanding that I will need an A5 visa & that the process is quite lengthy. Would you advise starting it in the US or waiting until we're in Israel? I also understand that I receive no benefits because I am not Jewish. What does one do for healthcare & learning Hebrew as I too wish to be a productive member of society even though the welcome mat is not exactly laid out for me? A: You will need to enter Israel on a standard tourist Visa (B-2). In Israel you may apply for an A-5. Ulpan is not expensive and is available to all who wish to learn. You will need to arrange private healthcare like all tourists. Q: My father is Jewish but has changed his religious affiliation. I am Jewish neither halachically nor religiously, although the time that I have spent in Israel has given me a strong desire to make aliyah. My reading of the 1970 amendment to the Law of Return disallows the privilege of aliyah to my father, but leaves the option open to me as I was neither born Jewish nor voluntarily changed my religion and have, of course, two Jewish grandparents. Is this a correct interpretation? A: Basically, yes it is.
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