Aliya experts: Can non-Jewish relatives make aliya?

Vol LVIII: My wife is an Israeli citizen who converted in Australia. Her non-Jewish father is all alone w/ no family in South Africa and over 65, and we want to bring him over permanently on aliya-- is this possible and how?

aliyaexpert88 (photo credit: )
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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.
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    Vol LVIII
    Q: My wife is an Israeli citizen who converted in Australia. Her non-Jewish father is all alone w/ no family in South Africa and over 65, and we want to bring him over permanently on aliya-- is this possible and how?
    A: He cannot make Aliyah as such because he is not included under the law of Return. To ascertain if he is eligible to live in Israel under the Law of Entry, you will need to inquire at the Ministry of Interior.
    Q: A friend of mine lived in Israel for 2 years while keeping her job in the US. She did her American job from Israel working over the Internet. She had no contact with any employer in Israel. The question came up whether she needed an Israeli work permit. She asked around and got very different answers. The misrad hapnim and the sochnut both told her she did not (as she didn't have an Israeli job), while several lawyers and accountants thought she did. Ugh. With people increasingly working remotely, this is becoming a very common work model and a great way for Israel to attract some of the best and brightest people from abroad. What is the real answer on the work permit question and why is this question so hard to get a straight answer to?
    A: Not everything is black and white and there are always gray areas where answers differ. This is a case where it depends how you ask the question.Q. Do I need a work permit to sit in front of my computer ant type?A.NoQ Do I need a work permit to sit in front of my sewing machine and sew ?A NoQ. If I do both above examples in order to generate income, do I have to make some sort of declaration to the Israeli Tax authorities?A. YES
    Now that hopefully you understand the principle, I suggest you contact an accountant and or tax consultant who will fill in the hows whys ifs and buts.
    Q: What are chances of a veterinarian getting a good job in IL with a salary that will allow the family to lead a middle class life?  Is the IL government in need of vets?
    A: A lot depends on where you settle in Israel. You should research different places to try and ascertain where in Israel the need is greatest. Many vets deal mainly with pets while others concentrate on farm animals. Research is definitely the answer.
    Q: I am in Israel now as a student for 2 years and and am not an Israeli citizen. 1- is this time considered and counted when looking and making aliyah and the amount of time spent in the last 10 years (I believe it's an 18 mos total period?) 2 - I never had an Israeli passport or ID# and my parents gave up their citizenship (long ridiculous story) when I was about 1 year old. Does this disqualify me from being an "oleh chadash" and put me in a different aliyah category (i.e. toshav chozer, aliyah ba-shenit etc)? 3- Once I become an Israeli citizen is there a waiting period involved with respect to health insurance? Will I be prevented from certain health insurance benefits for a specified time ( if yes- what?) once I get my health insurance?
    A: Your case is complicated and a newspaper is not the ideal place to give a long answer. If you call the Global Center 02 62367701 They will be able to decipher your status and benefits.
    Q: I am working in Israel and want to change my status to Oleh. I am not Jewish, but my father is. One of the first questions in the application form that I obtained in misrad hapnim is about my religion. Can I write that I am not religious? Will it not be interpreted as rejection of my Jewishness?
    I was also informed that I will have to pass an interview before my application is approved. What is the purpose of this interview? Should I show close familiarity with Jewish culture or my desire to live in Israel is sufficient?
    A: If you are able to show documentary evidence that your father is Jewish, then your application will be considered under the Law of Return. Olim applying from abroad are interviewed as part of the Aliyah process. As you are in Israel, they will interview you here.
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    Vol LVII
    Q: I hope I can make this clear and short. In 1960, I -- a Roman Catholic aged 17 --went with a Jewish man to Israel. We had temporary. resident visas. He intended that we emigrate but didn't like the conditions; we lived on a kibbutz where I attended ulpan but could not become competent in Hebrew. We also lived in Haifa, but I could not find a job in Israel (although I had a nice smile)-- for obvious reasons, no skills, no language, not Jewish (then). While in Israel I became pregnant. 
    We returned to the US after several months. After we came back, I had a son.  Then I took instruction and converted to reform Judaism. We were married in a Jewish ceremony. My son's father and I divorced many years ago.
    As a convert "after the fact", is there a legal basis for me to emigrate? I am a retired lawyer and writer; and I have taught (as a volunteer) English language and literacy. I am 65, and have health insurance from my job, as well as a pension and other benefits which are ordinarily adequate in San Francisco. (I would not become a public charge, but probably would need some assistance.)
    A: People who have undergone a conversion by an officially recognized Rabbinical authority be it Reform, Conservative or orthodox are eligible to make Aliyah in accordance with the Law of Return. Therefore, on the basis of the information supplied the answer is YES
    Q: I have lived in Israel for a few years. My father is Jewish and many years ago I had an orthodox conversion (don't know if it's relevant to my question). However, my mother still lives abroad (divorced from my father who is in the US). The question is: could I bring my mother to live in Israel? She is old and every time she visits she loves it, she even speaks some Hebrew. I have another two sisters in the country. Where should we go and ask?
    A: Your sisters in Israel should apply to the Israeli Ministry of Interior. These type of cases are strictly their department.
    Q: Can my non-Jewish mother in law, and sister in law make aliyah. My wife converted to Judaism.
    A: They cannot make Aliyah as such because they are not included under the law of Return. To ascertain if they are eligible to live in Israel under the Law of Entry, you will need to inquire at the Ministry of Interior.
    Q: My question is in relation to living / working in Israel. I am of the belief that my g-g-grandmother and her family were Jews living in Germany (I am from the same matrilineal line also - through the mothers / daughters, etc - I am the first son through that line). Unfortunately her mother died when she was two and then she moved to Australia. As a result, any family records seem to be lost. Therefore, I am unable to prove my Jewish heritage. With this in mind, is there any way possible for me to live / work in Israel. I am a 31 year old Paramedic with 10 years experience in this field.  What would be required of me / What would you suggest I do?
    A: Your best bet is to try and find employment in Israel and then apply for a work permit (B-1 visa)
    Q: I have almost completed my Aliyah plans and have now been advised that if I go with a group my EL AL weight allowance will be 70 kg BUT if I come on my own this is reduced to 60kg. WHY???? Does Israel only want group aliyah only - why discriminate - what is wrong with you all?
    A: I think you have a mistake somewhere. Olim Flying El Al are generally allowed an extra suitcase on board i.e. 3 instead of 2. That means 60 kilos instead of 40.If the plane if full of Olim , then the opposite occurs when the plane is too heavy to allow everyone extra weight. So sometimes group Aliyah has the weight problem, not individual Aliyah.
    Q: My wife was born in London but lived in Israel. She never had an Israeli passport but did have an Israeli ID number. She always traveled on a British passport. I am South African. We got married in Israel but have always lived in South Africa. We have 4 children. The last time my wife went to Israel when she left the passport control person said that she needs an Israeli passport. She does not mind but when applying they want to register our children on her passport which we do not want to do at this stage. Another option is for her to give up her citizenship. Can you please advise on what we should do?
    A: If you your wife and children ever decide to live in Israel you will have problems with Benefits if your wife renounces her Israeli Citizenship. Therefore I certainly do not recommend it. I assume that her reluctance to register the children is for fear of Army call-up. As long as the children are residing abroad, they have no Army obligation even though they are Israeli citizens.
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    Vol LVI
    Reader's Comment: Someone wrote an email about problems getting a job in IT here in Israel. I also had a frustrating time back in 1999 when I came to Israel the first time, with people offering me insanely low amounts compared with the market for my skills. I was away from 7 years, and when I came back this time, the story was much different.
    First off, I recommend that anyone in high tech take the time to look at the salary surveys at  and so that you know what the market looks like right now. Then I recommend that they post their resume to Runner is not a job site, per se. Instead it sends your cv out to a number of people who are looking for people in the categories that you tell them you want a job. Be ready when you send your resume to that site, though, to get calls every 15 minutes for the next two or three days and an ongoing landslide of calls for the next couple of weeks.
    If that doesn't work, then start asking your friends if they'd be willing to pass your resume on to their friends. I got several interviews that way, too.
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    Q: My wife, who is Jewish and an Israeli citizen, my 5-year-old daughter, and myself, non Jewish, are wanting to live in Israel next year 2008. We have been married 7yrs. Am I entitled to citizenship under the law of return? What documents, papers do we need to present at Ben Gurion? My wife will be a returning resident. She is 45yrs, and I am 42yrs.
    A: Israeli citizens return to Israel whenever they want. So the Law of Return does not apply to them. In your case, you will have to enter as a regular tourist. Your daughter is an Israeli by birth and as such requires an Israeli passport. You wife, while applying at the nearest Israeli consulate for a passport for your daughter, should clarify her status a Returning Resident.
    Q: I am a UK citizen who made aliyah in 1977/8. I served in the IDF and then left Israel in 1982. For many reasons, I never went back. After many years, I am seriously considering returning together with my wife. I have lost all my docs ie. passport, ID card... I called the embassy and they said that without the ID card number they can't trace me so I can't get a new passport and come back. Do have any advice as to how I can renew all my documentation? Thank you.
    A: Like most soldiers, I am sure that you remember your army number as it is embedded in most soldiers minds. Although it has been many year since I was finally de-mobbed, I can still recite my number without thinking. If you were from the UK it is probable that the now UJIA, then British Olim Society, have some details on file ( . To which Kupat Cholim did you belong to? With a little bit of effort, I am sure you will be able to trace your ID number.
    Q: I was born in Israel and hold Israeli citizenship. I left Israel when I was 5 years old and never went back. I probably lived there less than three years in total. I am considering immigrating to Israel and would like to know if I will be considered a new immigrant or a returning resident. Will I get health insurance coverage immediately or does the waiting period apply to me? I have a master's degree in Industrial Engineering and would like to know how is the job market for industrial engineers. I have been told that since there are not many industries in Israel other than high tech industries, it is hard to get a job as an industrial engineer, is that true?.
    A: Depending on a few other factors that you have not mentioned you should be defined as a Katin Chozer (Returning Minor). If so you will have the opportunity to join the health service as soon as you have opened a file with the National Insurance Institute. Regarding employment, a few more details are needed e.g. your age, experience etc. Send me your resume to [email protected]
    Q: I was born in Israel and moved to the US when I was 3 years of age. I have 2 children who have been living in Israel for the past 3 years. My son who just turned 18 will be joining the army within the next 2 weeks. I am an American citizen 53 years old. I have visited Israel 3 times over the past years. On one of my visit I spent about 9 months here. Am I considering returning to Israel or an oleh hadash?
    A: Because you have spent over 4 months in one calendar year you will be considered a returning Resident.
    Q: I plan on serving in the IDF under the Mahal track and then returning to the United States to finish my university studies. Will this alter my ability to make aliyah later in life? Will I be denied any rights if I make aliyah after serving in the IDF under temporary citizenship? And finally, will I gain any rights if I make aliyah after serving in the IDF?
    A: No. No. Yes like all other olim.
    Q: My country of birth does not allow dual citizenship. I would like to make aliyah - what are my options?
    A: To make Aliyah and then sign within 90 days of arrival a declaration renouncing Israeli Citizenship. Your status will become Permanent Resident of Israel. And as such you will not lose your other citizenship.
    Q: Hello, my Shaliach informed me that I am an Olah Hadash and my Israeli husband is a returning resident. We have a daughter born in America and are therefore considered a Mishpachat Olim. Can you tell me what are the practical implications of me being an olah and my husband not (ie. Does he get an income tax break? Do we get the full sal klita amount?) What is my daughter considered?
    A: If you are considered a family of Immigrants (Mishpachat Olim) You will be entitled to the full Sal Klita and one way tickets to Israel for the whole family. Your husband does not have the income tax break because he is not an Oleh. Your daughter is an Israeli citizen.
    Q: My wife came to Israel and converted to Judaism , after which we were married. She has a non-Jewish mother and sister who want to make Aliya. I've heard of a Family Unity law, I'm not sure if it exists. Is there such a thing, and if so how does it work. If it doesn't exist, what do you suggest?
    A: There is such a law, but it is complicated and you will have to ask advice from the Israeli Ministry of Interior regarding their eligibility. However even if they are eligible under this rule the won't be considered Olim and will not have immigrant benefits.
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    Vol LV
    Q: I am currently 21 and will be making aliyah at 22 or 23. I spent a year in Israel at a yeshiva starting at age 19. I have heard that the army looks at your date of entry when calculating the amount of time you need to serve and not your date of aliyah. Will I be called on to serve 3 years? Is my date of entry the date I came for my year in yeshiva? If so, how do I reset my date of entry in order to only serve the amount of time required at my age of aliyah?
    A: Once you have been out of Israel for 2 years, the previous time spent is not taken into consideration by the IDF.
    Q: My wife and I immigrated to Israel from the US 17 years ago. We didn't have much money for a down payment, and were never able to purchase a home. We are considering purchasing a home for the first time in Israel. On page 2 of a recent article on New Immigrant housing rights called "If you can afford it, it is no dream" the article outlined financial benefits. 
    In subsection 1, the article said that new immigrants were entitled to 105,885 NIS over 25 years + 101, 570 over 28 years. In subsection 2, it continues that if the family has not purchased a home in the first 8 years, it can receive an additional 33,600 over 25 years.
    Our children have all grown up and finished the army. When I went to the bank they said that all we could receive was 85,250. (We immigrated later in life and did not serve in the IDF)
    Is this correct? Why is there such a large discrepancy from the article mentioned above?
    A: Government subsidized mortgages are calculated according to a points system. The more points accrued the greater the mortgage. Points are awarded for all kinds of criteria; Olim, Israelis who never previously owned a home in Israel, Army service, siblings in Israel, etc. You should go into any bank that offers mortgages and apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (Teudat Zakaut in Hebrew). Once you have completed all the questions the correct amount of eligibility will be calculated according to all the details you have submitted.
    Q: I am a junior studying Microbiology and would love to make aliyah. The plan would be to pursue a year at a yeshiva and then do a PhD hopefully at Hebrew university. I will have between 10000-15000$ of college loans and won't have that much money saved up. I will have some. Would it be a better idea to make aliyah earlier and struggle or do my PhD here, pay off loans, save up more money but move to Israel when I am 30.
    A: The answer is not a financial one, wherever you study it will cost money. The Government of Israel offers free Bachelor or Masters degrees to Olim but not PhDs. The question is where do you want to be, You are still a long way off from age 30 and the streets of the Diaspora are lined with wonderful Jewish people whose sincere plans of making "long term" Aliyah were somehow put on hold because of many different and genuine considerations, such as marriage, job offers, family obligations, change in values etc. etc. Go where you feel you need to be and the tackle all the challenges as they come along.
    Reader's Comment: Since his subject is Microbiology - there is one place in Israel that offers a free PhD plus a stipend - if you are good enough to get in - the Weizmann Institute. They accept about 1 in 4 applicants - and the language of instruction is English - so he should give it a try. Q: You often speak of the waiting period for Returning Olim and health coverage. Is this defined? Or is is case-by-case?
    A: It is defined but right now there is a special offer available due to Israel's upcoming 60th Birthday. Full details are available on their website
    Q: I am Jewish. I made aliyah 5 years ago, but I haven't been living in Israel during the last three years. I have a wife and a son. We were married in the Ukraine 3 years ago, and my son was born two years ago. I want to return to Israel with my family, but to even get a tourist visa for my wife and son proved to be a very difficult process. Can my wife and son make an aliyah?
    A: We are assuming from what you have written that your wife and son are not Jewish. Therefore you, as an Israeli, can return to Israel under the laws of entry and citizenship. This means that as the Law of return is not relevant here, your wife and son need to apply for a tourist visa in order to enter into Israel. Once here they have the right to apply to the Israeli Ministry of Interior for a more permanent visa.
    Q: Just to check for sure (I have already contacted customs and misrad haclitah). I made aliyah July 2004 but left to earn some money Nov 2005, I had to have a big operation and am still in the UK. I'd like to bring my motorcycle with me this time; it's a model approved on Israel's roads but it's 12 years old (and in perfect condition). In your experience will my import rights still hold (customs and misrad haclita say yes but sometimes you're told yes just to end a call quickly)?
    A: Yes, you have 3 year customs rights minus the time spent in Israel since making Aliyah. Be warned that visits to Israel since leaving Israel can alter the time you have left. For an Oleh, the age of the motor cycle is irrelevant.
    Q: I want to make aliyah in the next two years. I'm 68 years old. I was in Israel with my family in 1958 at age of 16 and we left at age of 18. My parents fought for my status as a new immigrant to the supreme court and they won but when I came as a tourist, I needed a teoudat maavar because my teoudat zehout still existed. Will I be toshav hozer or ole hadash?
    A: It would be misleading to give a valid answer knowing so little background information but if you need an Israeli travel document (Teudat Ma'avar) to enter and leave Israel, then it probably means that you will be regarded as a Returning Resident.
    Q: Having just read your article about Olim struggling to make a living, I would like to add a comment. We made Aliyah four years ago and from a financial point of view it is a never ending struggle. I am now working for myself because it is the only way to be able to pay all the bills and look after the family. In all this time never once have we broken even at the end of a month. The joke was, how do you make a small fortune here, come out with a big fortuneFrom an absorption point of view, we made Aliyah to Eilat. Perhaps we were expecting too much, but apart from being met at Ben Gurion airport from a representative from the UJIA, I would say that we were left to fend for ourselves. In a way it feels like "get them into the country and the job is done".
    I did Ulpan and I can speak Ivrit fluently enough, but when you want to phone some of the big companies like Hot or Bezek or the Municipality or Bituach Leumi you receive messages in Ivrit, Russian and sometimes Arabic but never English. Why?
    A: The immigrant associations work on very small budgets so they tend to be more active where there are larger English speaking Olim communities. In Eilat there are many English speakers: tourists, foreign workers etc but not many Olim. Therefore I do agree with you that there is a lack of "back up" services in the outlying areas.
    The fact is that about 20% of Israelis speak mother-tongue Russian whereas I would guess that mother tongue English might reach 2-3 %. Therefore it's no wonder that the large organizations don't include voice mail in English. By the way, Bituach Leumi has an excellent website in English You have been here for 4 years and cannot finish the month - I have been here for 38 years and cannot finish the month! Who said that the age of miracles was over!!!!
    Q: I was born in Israel and left at the age of 12 however returned for 10 months of high school when I was 15 years old. Does this mean I am not eligible for status as a ktina hoseret?
    A: Try to get a letter from the school where you studied verifying the facts and then contact either the nearest Aliyah Shaliach or call toll free the Global Center 1 866 835 0430

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