MONIQUE MARTINEK 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Biblical Ruth endeared herself to the Jewish people and embodies our
acceptance of foreigners who link their lot with ours. Ruth tugged at our
collective heartstrings when she said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn
back from following you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge,
I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you
die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more
also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16–17).
selfless, evocative declaration of allegiance sufficed for welcoming Ruth into
the fold of ancient Israel. But were Ruth’s story transported to our day,
Israel’s Ministry of the Interior would disdainfully reject her application
under the Law of Return.
This is precisely what is befalling a latter-day
Ruth who altruistically left comfortable and peaceful Switzerland to live a
likely less comfortable life in not-always- peaceful Israel.
Ruth Eglash revealed in Wednesday’s paper
, Interior Ministry
functionaries are about to refuse the aliya application of pediatric nurse
Monique Martinek, who left the Alpine serenity of Switzerland last April and has
been studying Hebrew here ever since. She decided on the move after having
discovered that her paternal grandmother was murdered by the Nazis in 1941
Martinek researched her roots in Austria’s National Archives and
uncovered, among other documents, a Third Reich-issued identification card
categorizing her grandmother and great-grandmother as Jews. She likewise found
the great-grandmother’s grave in a local Jewish cemetery.
NONE OF this
could sway ministry officials. Instead of being impressed with a young Swiss
professional’s fervent resolve to dwell with her slain grandmother’s people,
they characteristically nitpicked with all the petty antagonisms for which the
Shas-run bureaucracy has become so infamous.
The ministry men discovered
small print on one of the documents noting that the grandmother testified that
she had practiced Roman Catholicism. At the time, plenty of Jews asserted
likewise in the vain hope that they might thereby avoid some measure of
Invariably this had no effect upon the Nazis, though they
methodically registered whatever claims desperate Jewish supplicants
That the officialdom of the Jewish state should seize on a notation
at the bottom of a Nazi document to renege on Martinek’s rights under Law of
Return is particularly cynical and coldhearted. Martinek’s grandmother was
Jewish enough to be put to a premature death due to her lineage but isn’t Jewish
enough to satisfy Eli Yishai’s subordinates.
This must outrage each and
every Jew in this country, regardless of politics or degree of religiosity. This
is spine-chilling callousness.
Moreover, ministerial scrutiny is not
evenhandedly applied to all halachically non-Jewish immigrants who enter Israel
under the Law of Return. This seminal law accords automatic Israeli citizenship
to anyone with even a single Jewish grandparent.
It is this law which
brought to Israel during recent decades hundreds of thousands of non-Jews,
mostly from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. In many cases, their ties to
the Jewish people are much more tenuous and far less verifiable than Martinek’s.
Jewish Agency emissaries have been accused of recruiting Russian-speaking aliya
candidates with only the vaguest of hearsay assumptions about a Jewish
The Falash Mura of Ethiopia have even less of a
COULD IT be that Martinek is discriminated against because
she is on her own and not backed by one of the large vociferous immigrant
lobbies and their political patrons? But Martinek’s case is not an individual
travail. Europe, especially countries like Poland, has thousands of Jews who
grew up as children in non- Jewish care and only belatedly were apprised of
their tragic origins. The offspring of many hidden Jews now wish to make their
home among us.
Will we spurn them, as we have Martinek? That would be a
grievous and unforgivable sin.
If Martinek indeed takes her case to the
Supreme Court, we wish her unequivocal success. She and other descendants of
Holocaust victims should be welcomed among us with open arms and embraced with
all the affection reserved for Ruth.