Renowned Jewish scientist in two-year wait for aliyah

Eminent pathologist Prof. Ruth Katz, who patented an early cancer detection test with an Israeli firm, facing repeated obstacles in her aliyah request from the Population and Immigration Authority.

Prof. Ruth Katz is seen at her parents' graves in Beit Shemesh. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Prof. Ruth Katz is seen at her parents' graves in Beit Shemesh.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A renowned Jewish scientist and professor of pathology is facing ongoing obstructionism from the Population and Immigration Authority in her efforts to make aliyah and obtain Israeli citizenship.
Prof. Ruth Katz, an eminent pathologist with a specialty in cytopathology who has authored more than 400 scientific papers and other academic works, has faced numerous, burdensome demands from the Population Authority since applying for aliyah in 2018, despite having her credentials and Jewish status confirmed by her Orthodox rabbi in Houston, Texas, by the Israeli consul there and, most recently, by the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court.
Born Jewish, and a Cohen on both her paternal and maternal sides, all of Katz’s siblings and children have already obtained Israeli citizenship, as did her parents, both of whom are buried in Israel.
Her current husband, Aharon Sharon, to whom she has been married to since 2002, is also an Israeli citizen.
South African-born Katz, 73, was a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Pathology until her retirement in 2018, she was then appointed a professor of pathology at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer in 2018 and has lectured at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa and at the Weizman Institute in Rehovot.
She is also part of a team that has patented a test with an Israeli firm for circulating tumor cells in patients with early lung cancer that is currently being commercialized by Livzon Cynvenio Diagnostics Ltd., a Chinese pharma company.
Katz initially tried to make aliyah in 2012 but when a bureaucratic problem was raised with her birth certificate, she put her application on hold.
Then, in 2018, after she retired from her position at University of Texas, Katz again sought to make aliyah and began the process through Nefesh B’Nefesh.
In the meantime, Katz moved to Israel on a temporary visa and continued her application for citizenship.
Since then, the Interior Ministry has refused to accept a letter confirming her Jewish status from Rabbi Gidon Moskowitz an Orthodox rabbi in Houston, Texas where she was a synagogue member for 14 years, saying it was not an original document.
The ministry also demanded that Katz provide the marriage and death certificate of her second husband as proof of her personal status as a widow, even though she remarried after his death.
Katz was unable to provide the original marriage certificate from South Africa in 1975, despite going to significant lengths and expense to do so. The rabbi of the synagogue has died and the synagogue and its records were destroyed in a fire.
She did, however, provide a certified copy of the marriage certificate, which the Population Authority also rejected.
Prof. Ruth Katz with her temporary visa (Credit: Courtesy)Prof. Ruth Katz with her temporary visa (Credit: Courtesy)
The Population Authority similarly rejected the death certificate she provided for her second husband, saying there was a technical problem with the apostille, a form used to authenticate formal documents internationally.
Her late husband is buried in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot cemetery.
The Population Authority also rejected Katz’s marriage license document from Harris County in Texas from her third marriage saying that it required a marriage license and not a marriage certificate.
Katz had presented a letter from the Israeli consul in Houston confirming that the state of Texas only issues marriage licenses and not certificates, as well as a letter from the Harris County clerk stating likewise. Nonetheless, the Interior Ministry still declined to accept the documentation.
Last month, the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court validated Katz’s marriage to her third husband, saying that it was conducted “in accordance with the religion of Moses and Israel,” essentially confirming her Jewish status.
All three of Katz’s siblings have made aliyah, both of Katz’s children are Israeli citizens, her husband is Israeli, and her parents also made aliyah.
“I have felt helpless, depressed and victimized and I can’t understand why this is happening,” Katz told The Jerusalem Post.
“I’m very fatigued by all these requests, it’s like a nightmare having to battle and fight and provide all this paperwork.
“I’m a Zionist, I believe in Israel tremendously and I don’t want to give up on that idea. My whole family is here, I believe it is a fantastic country in certain ways, but at the same time it is very difficult to handle this situation.”
The Population and Immigration Authority said in response that there was “no delay at all in the examination of the [aliyah] request,” and said that since Katz submitted her aliyah request in Israel “the process takes longer, because it requires the submission of documents and an examination, which is usually done in the country of origin.”
The authority said that the processing of the request is ongoing.•