Aliya experts: Reform conversions

LXXI: I have a friend who went through a Reform conversion in the US. Someone who does this must remain in the community where the conversion occurs for at least one year before applying for aliyah. When exactly does that year begin?

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The expert is Maurice Singer, Senior Aliyah Consultant at 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 and please leave your comments on the Q&A below.
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  • For Vols LXVI to Vol LXIX click here * * * Vol LXXI Q: I have a friend who went through a conversion with the Reform movement here in the USA. I read in one of your answers in Cafe Oleh that someone who does this must remain in the community where the conversion occurs for at least one year before applying to aliyah. My question is this: does that year begin after the mikveh and the official date that the conversion papers are issued or does the year include the preparation time spent in the community before the actual conversion took place? Also, I have heard that this year requirement could be shortened soon. Is this true, and if so what new time requirement is being considered? A: The year begins after the Conversion is officially confirmed. I have no information regarding plans to shorten this waiting period. Q: I made aliyah in 1978 with my wife and subsequently left Israel one year later. I had an Yishur Yitziah (Exit permit) which stipulated that I had to come back to Israel for recruitment no later than 1 Jan 1980. I haven't been back to Israel since November 1979 and my wife and I and our two kids have been living in Australia ever since. We intend to visit Israel this year and would like to know if breaching my conditions as stipulated in my Yishur Yitziah issued on my departure in 1979 will have legal consequences. I am 55 years old. A: Technically, yes. You should contact the nearest Israeli Consulate before arriving in order to clarify your position. Q: I am a 27-year-old male, born abroad but with Israeli citizenship thanks to my parents, who are Israeli. I have never lived in Israel though I have visited often for short periods (less than a month a time). If I were to move to Israel as a toshav chozer would I have to serve in the army? If yes, for how long? Thank you. A: On the basis of the scant information you have given me, you would not be a toshav Chozer (returning citizen) but an Ezrach Yelid Chul (Israeli citizen born abroad). At your age you would not be inducted for active service but you will be listed as "on call" if the situation G-D forbid ever arose. Q: I am an Israeli citizen who lives in the US, and plan to continue living here for the rest of my life. My wife and I just had a son, and I was wondering how and what the process is to renounce my son's Israeli citizenship, and how long after his birth do I still have to begin this process. Any help would be greatly appreciated! A: Mazal Tov on the birth of your son. However, you cannot renounce your son's citizen without renouncing your own at the same time. Q: My girlfriend and I are considering making aliyah in about 2 years time. However, she is headed towards end stage renal failure. (GFR of 28 and dropping) As Israel has one of the lowest donation rates, and mortality rate (after 1 year) of 8% for <45 (she's 20) we are quite worried about what to do. Is the general trend improving? How likely is it that she would have a transplant after a year, two years, etc.? Do you know if she could still be on the transplant lists in the UK? A: This is a medical consideration and not, in my opinion an Aliyah one. Please speak to your Doctor and ask him if he can consult with an Israel counterpart. * * * Vol LXX Q: I am Italian and I will be soon converted by a Bet Din of recognized American Reform Rabbis. After spending a year with my Reform community in Florence I would like to make aliyah. Reform communities are not officially recognized by the Italian government (according to a law enacted during the Fascist dictatorship and which should be amended someday). My question is: am I still eligible for aliyah even if Italian Reform communities are not recognized? A: If your conversion is through the Official Reform Synagogue Movement of USA, then there should be no reason that the conversion is not accepted in Israel for the purposes of Aliyah. You are however required to spend at least one year actively participating in a Jewish Community abroad prior to your Aliyah. A letter to this effect by a recognized Rabbi should be sufficient. Q: I am an Israeli-born citizen (I have US citizenship as well). My son was born in the US, and I would like to travel with him to Israel this summer. I called the Israeli Consulate, and they said that he needs an Israeli Passport since he is the son of an Israeli citizen born in Israel. Is this correct, or can he legally visit Israel on his US passport? A: Yes the information is correct. Your son was born also Israeli and therefore Israeli law requires him to enter and leave Israel on an Israeli passport. Q: I am married to an Israeli citizen who moved to the US when he was 24 years old. We have been married for 16 years, he is now a US citizen and our family travels to Israel every year. At what point if any, do our 2 children (ages 12 and 10) need to have Israeli passports? I understand that each time we go through customs in Israel, they ask him why the children don't have Israeli passports. And, if they are required to have them at a certain age, what does that mean for army service etc?. A: Your children were born also Israeli and therefore Israeli law requires them to enter and leave Israel on Israeli passports. There is no obligation for them to serve in the Israeli Army upon reaching Army age provided they are permanently domiciled in the USA. If however they decide to visit Israel when they are at or approaching call up age then they should apply at the Israeli Consulate for entry and exit permission before arriving in Israel. Q: Entered Israel in 1980, with Kibbutz Aliya of NY, stayed in Matzuba, then after an ulpan went to J'lem, into the 4 yr program. 1982 comes around, war etc., changed status to Oleh (from Temp Res), and was inducted, served, etc... then in 1990/91, with nothing doing in Tel Aviv, left Israel for America. NEVER used my oleh hadash rights at all back in the day. If I return to Israel, as a Toshav Hozer, what rights (if any) accrue to me? I already did my undergrad and graduate studies in the US on my own nickel. A: "Immigrant rights" is misleading terminology. The word should be concessions: "you either use them or lose them". You will be a Returning Israeli. You can read up on Ret Res benefits on www.moia.gov.il Q: I am now finished my 4th year in University, I have decided that I would like to study in a Yeshiva in Israel for 4 months. I was born in Israel, but left at the age of 3 years with my parents who are Israelis. I am now  21 years old. Do I have to do the army, and if so how long? I do have an Israeli passport, which I am proud to own and also hope to live back in Israel at some stage. A: You do need an Israeli Passport. While applying you should ask for an entry and exit permit before arriving in Israel to prevent any problems with the Army. You should not stay any longer than 4 months in any one calendar year in order to safeguard your benefits should you decide to return to live in Israel one day. Q: I am a wife and mother of 5 children.  The children are all 13 years old and under; the youngest is 1. My family has been observant Orthodox Jews since 2000, but have not been able to convert here in Hawaii for unfortunate reasons. There is simply no one here willing to do it. The chabad here is very political and money oriented. Is it possible for my family and me to convert to Orthodox Judaism in Israel on an Orthodox kibbutz without losing the privileges of making aliyah afterwards? If so, how can we make this happen and what kibbutz will accept a family of 7? I am 43 and my husband is 51 years old. We have 3 sons and two daughters. A: I don't know of any religious Kibbutzim that are geared to accept a family of your size for conversion. From experience, you would probably be better off moving to a community in another state in the USA which has a Jewish community and facilities for families wishing to convert. Q: Hi, I have a question. I am an israeli student in Hungary who has been outside of Israel more than six years, and has spent less than 120 days per year in Israel. I would like to buy a car from Germany and import it to Israel. My question is do I pay normal taxes or do I get a disscount. And what things do I need to do? Which Israeli offices I should contact? A: Israelis cannot personally import cars any more. Sorry Q: I found out that on my fathers side of the family we have Israeli heritage, descended from the tribe of Judah. I cannot tell you what an honor and privilege it would be to serve in the Israeli Army if I was given the chance. I would very much like to do so, I would serve with the utmost pride to protect the Holy Land. Please give a response as to how I can approach this ambition. Shalom! A: I am not sure how you can trace your descendants so many generation back but Aliyah is based on documentary evidence of Jewish parents and or Grandparents Q: Is it possible to open a personal bank account in Israel while still living in the USA? If so, what would be the least amount it would take to get it started? I feel it would be a good idea to start depositing some savings before I make aliyah. Thanks in advance for your response . A: I think that it is a very good idea to start saving money towards your Aliyah. You should choose the bank that gives you the best rate of interest irrespective if it is in Israel or the USA. When you are ready to make Aliyah then transfer the account to An Israeli bank. Q: I was wondering if it is possible to convert to Judaism in Israel? I live in England at the moment and want to convert but would much prefer to spend my life in Israel and convert there. I also have a child who I would want with me. Is this possible or do I need to convert in England before I can live in Israel? A: I would consult the nearest Rabbi or Synagogue regarding all the processes involved in converting to Judaism. Probably after converting is the best time to consider Israel as a living option. * * * * * *
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