Aliya expert: Jewish through adoption

My Danish mom (US citizen) was adopted by non-Jews. However, her mother was adopted by a Jewish father. Would my mother be eligible for Aliyah?

aliyaexpert88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The expert is Maurice Singer, an Independent Consultant and former 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 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 Vol LXXX to Vol LXXXI click here * * * LXXXIII Q: Hi, I am half Venezuelan, half Israeli. My father was born in Israel and has an Israeli passport. I was born in Venezuela. Am I an Israeli citizen? Or do I have to make Aliya to become one? I am also Jewish. A: According to the information you have given. You were born with automatic Israeli citizenship due to the fact that your father has Israeli citizenship. Therefore you should have the right of return to Israel with most of the benefits given to New Immigrants. Q: I am a citizen of a small island in the Caribbean name St.Lucia. I converted to reform Judaism here in Germany. Can I make aliyah as a reform Jew and then convert Orthodox in Israel? A: You must check on the Rabbi. Is he part of the Reform Movement of USA? If so then you can, but please check it out very carefully. Q: If I was a permanent resident of Israel in 1968 and lived there for 18 years. Can I now become a citizen after not living in Israel for 22 years. I am Jewish. A: In principle yes. You must apply to the Ministry of Interior after arriving in Israel. Q: My Danish mother (US citizen) was adopted by non-Jews. However, her mother was adopted by a Jewish father. Under Israeli Law of Return, would my mother be eligible for Aliyah? A: This not a simple yes/no answer. Was you mother legally adopted. Was her father a practicing Jew. Was she raised as a practicing Jew. Did she embrace another religion. Q: My husband's grandfather and grandmother on his father's side were Jewish.  Would he be eligible for Aliyah? If so, what documentations would we have to provide? A: He will have to prove that a. they were his grandparents and b. that they were Jewish Q: I am a 64-year-old entrepreneur still active, ready to leave Italy to move to Israel.  I lost my belongings but am slowly recovering . Without capital, my aliyah will be refused. How to solve? A: It's not a case of approved or not. It's a case of how will you survive in Israel. Where will you live, how will you eat? Aliyah is the easy part of the process. Klita Absorption is the difficulty. Q: We would like to make aliyah this year but have heard that conservative conversions are not being accepted. Is this true? What can we do to ensure a successful aliyah? A: If the conversion is performed by a Rabbi who is affiliated to the official Conservative Movement and if you have been active in a Jewish Community for at least a year prior to your Aliyah, then there should be no problem. Whether they will be considered Jewish by the Rabbinate here is a different matter. Q: I have recently converted to Judaism within the Conservative / Masorti movement. Do I qualify to make aliyah to Israel? A: Yes after one year of being active in your community following your conversion. Q: I am in my late 30s and my father's mother was Jewish. Her sister, sister's children and grandchildren all live in Israel. Am I eligible for aliyah? A: Yes if you have/had a Jewish Grandparent and you haven't adopted a different religion Q: My wife is a dentist in the United States. If we were to make aliyah, what would it take for her to get an Israeli license to practice dentistry? A: She would have to undergo some exams to re-qualify. Not easy but necessary I'm afraid. You can read more about qualifying as a Dentist on the Nefesh b'Nefesh website. * * * LXXXII Q: For reasons important to them, my mother's grandparents hid the fact that they were Jewish, thus the family thereafter functioned in a non-Jewish mode. My mother, an American, subsequently married a non-Jewish American. In spite of this, I was circumcised by a Jewish mohel and through my adult life I've enjoyed the feeling of possessing a special connection with Jewish friends. From time to time I have been found seated in a synagogue on the Sabbath. I'm now in my late sixties and own a successful business that manufactures a varied line of products, some medical in nature with worldwide distribution. At this time the desire is to spend the balance of my days in Israel and there establish a division (branch) of the American-based company. This desire narrows to that of becoming a citizen of Israel, along with a 24-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. I am doubtful, though, that I would be accepted as Jewish and thus entitled to Aliyah. What is the recommended course I follow? A: It appears that whereas you might have a case for being considered "halachically" Jewish you do not fall under the confines of the Law of Return which goes as far back to your grandparents. This means that as thing are at present you cannot apply for Israeli citizenship. You should consider moving to Israel possibly as a tourist and then try to apply for a more permanent Visa. Q: Greetings. My husband is studying at our local Reform synagogue and is planning to convert to Judaism, and we would like to make aliyah in several years. Does he need to practice Judaism for a year in the *same* community in which the conversion is done prior to applying for aliyah, or can it be a different community in a different location? I ask because we expect to need to move for business soon after his conversion. Thank you! A: Any Jewish Community is OK. Q: I converted to Judaism in March 2007 (Reform) and came to Israel on a tourist visa in October 2007. I met my Israeli boyfriend on my first trip to Israel after my conversion in April 2007. After a few months we decided we wanted to live in Israel together as I wanted to live in eretz Israel. In November 2007 I applied for Aliyah through Misrad Hapnim and have yet to receive my teudat zehut and teudat oleh. I have given them letters from my rabbis of my congregation overseas, the conversion certificate and also a letter from my rabbi in Israel - because that is what they requested. This was in May. Over 7 months have passed by and I still haven't heard anything from them. Last time I went there (in September), I was told not to make an appointment to come and speak to somebody, but that they will call me. Well, they haven't. I feel helpless and I don't know what to do anymore. Help? A: I would like to hope that the Prime Minister or the minister of interior would read this column and take heed of the situation regarding the Aliyah processing of converts trying to change status in Israel. The clerks at the Ministry really are overworked and underpaid and I sympathize with them. However my sympathies are more with dozens of honest and genuine people that fall victim to endless bureaucracy. Due to unfortunate misuse of the system, the Ministry seems to be in no rush to award citizenship to converts changing status in Israel. Maybe you should consider going through the process from abroad. Q: My husband is an Israeli citizen because his mother was born there. He is American-born, and only studied in Israel for a short while. He did not get an Israeli passport. He wants to visit soon and was told to get a travel document - that would list children and spouse. He does not want to affect their becoming Israeli citizens at all (by listing them). He thought instead just to revoke his citizenship - but then he has to prove his being married in a very complicated way since Israel doesn't recognize a (Maryland state) marriage certificate so simply. What's the easiest way to be able to go visit without all the trouble? A: Your husband was born Israeli by virtue of the fact his mother was Israeli. However he was born outside Israel. Now his children are a generation where both their parents were not born in Israel so therefore your children do NOT have Israeli citizenship. I suggest that you obtain passports for your children from the country of their birth and that your husband applies for an Israeli passport. Q: Hi, my wife is Israeli and we have just received a English passport for our 3-month old daughter. She will be traveling to Israel with the baby for a week or 2 weeks in the very near future. I know by Israeli law if you have an Israeli passport you must use it to enter and leave the country. My question is however, if the baby does not have an Israeli passport would they still allow her to leave the country or will they cause problems at the border control? If yes how do we go about it? Applying for a passport in Israel for a baby in under a week is no easy task!?!?! besides if we could get away with it we prefer it this way for the time being. Finally if she has not applied for a passport during her visit, do they have the facilities to issue a passport for her in the airport? A: Your child is as much Israeli as she is British. So you should apply in England at the Israeli Consulate. Why open the doors to unnecessary problems at the airport? Q: I have been in Israel more than 20 years and have spent nearly 4 million shekels in aid to the poor Jewish agency children's cancer programs etc. My grandfather on my mother's side was a Jew but he was married to a goy. No ketubah. What can I do to become a citizen of beloved Israel? I have a home and sufficient funds not to be a burden to the government of Israel. what must I do? A: You can try to apply to the Ministry of Interior for Permanent Residency and if granted apply at a later stage for citizenship. However there is no guarantee that they will accept your application. Despite you very generous gifts, you are not in the category of eligibility through the Law of Return. Q: I converted to Judaism 2001 and when my son had his bar mitzvah he also had a conversion certificate. We converted Reformed, but I am considering Conservative. Will this qualify me to make aliyah? A: Both Reform and Conservative Conversions are recognized under the Law of Return provided they are carried out by Rabbis affiliated the the official Rabbinical Authorities. * * *
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