US convert who struggled to obtain citizenship gets temporary residence

David Ben Moshe, who struggled for over two years to get citizenship, obtains temporary residency with view to citizenship following Post report.

David Ben Moshe together with his wife and child (photo credit: COURTESY DAVID BEN MOSHE)
David Ben Moshe together with his wife and child
David Ben Moshe, an American Jewish convert whose efforts to obtain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return have been repeatedly thwarted, has received temporary residency and will seek citizenship.
Ben Moshe converted through an Orthodox rabbi in 2017 under the auspices of Rabbi Etan Mintz of B’nai Israel in Baltimore and he came to Israel on a study trip.
He applied for citizenship in May 2018 and in August married a woman under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.
The Interior Ministry denied his request for citizenship, which all converts are entitled to. It cited criminal convictions against Ben Moshe in 2010 on drug and firearms charges, for which he served two and a half years in prison, and technicalities regarding his conversion.
Following a report last month by The Jerusalem Post on Ben Moshe’s situation, the ministry sent him a letter that said: “After a review of his request and while addressing all the documents in his file, including his association with a Jewish community in Israel,” it was decided he was eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.
Because Ben Moshe had a past criminal record, he would be given a trial period of residency on an A5 visa, after which his request for permanent citizenship will be reviewed, the letter said.
On Sunday, Ben Moshe received the A5 visa from the Jerusalem branch of the Immigration and Population Authority. It is renewable after one year.
The meeting and bureaucratic processes “went smoothly for the first time ever,” Ben Moshe told the Post on Sunday.
“We’re unhappy about the unknown length of the trial period, which leaves the door open to dragging it out,” he said. “But it was a much more positive experience, and things are moving in the right direction.”
Rabbi Seth Farber, director of the ITIM religious services organization that has represented Ben Moshe said his case stands for “the victory of justice over bureaucracy,” but that the group would continue to track his case until his temporary status becomes permanent.
“ITIM continues to represent hundreds of people each month who are striving to live Jewish lives in Israel. We will not rest until Israel is respectful and responsive to the Jewish needs of our people,” said Farber.