Law of Return: Grandchildren of Jews have Jewish blood - opinion

Let's look at the glass half full: For those who are confident of their culture, their land and their peoplehood, there is simply no fear, no trepidation and no worry.

 REVELERS WATCH a fireworks display on Independence Day in Tel Aviv, last year. Immigrant grandchildren of Jews will come to value a restful Shabbat and the excitement of Independence Day and will undoubtedly teach it to their own children, says the writer. (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
REVELERS WATCH a fireworks display on Independence Day in Tel Aviv, last year. Immigrant grandchildren of Jews will come to value a restful Shabbat and the excitement of Independence Day and will undoubtedly teach it to their own children, says the writer.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

I would like to answer the question asked by Akiva Lamm in his article on Wednesday, titled “Who suffers from the grandchild clause?”

No one suffers from it if those grandchildren of Jews are law-abiding, loyal citizens of Israel.  And why should anyone suffer from these grandchildren who obviously chose to come live in their ancestral homeland? 

Let's look at the glass half full

The lack of generosity to welcome people who also have Jewish blood running through their veins is beyond my comprehension. Are we so concerned that the vibrant Jewish culture and biblical moral values we hold as a people are not enough to keep us strong as a Jewish nation that we have to fear the influence of those who have a bit less Jewish blood than the rest of us?  And why look at the glass as being half empty?

Why not view the glass from the half full position, one which allows Jewish citizens to influence those who are not fully Jewish but partially Jewish? Why not look at the potential of these grandchildren of Jews, likely choosing to marry the child of two Jewish parents? Why not realize that the children born from such a union will have more Jewish blood, more Jewish culture and more Jewish exposure to their heritage?  

Those are the two options: the glass half empty or the glass half full.  

 A NEW immigrant from North America kisses the ground upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport. Coming from the United States, 21,000 people made aliyah in the past 30 years, approximately 94%, 20,000 people, are Jewish. (credit: FLASH90) A NEW immigrant from North America kisses the ground upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport. Coming from the United States, 21,000 people made aliyah in the past 30 years, approximately 94%, 20,000 people, are Jewish. (credit: FLASH90)

For those who are confident of their culture, their land and their peoplehood, there is simply no fear, no trepidation and no worry. They know that what they have is attractive, compelling and desirable. They know that when people see something good, they want it for themselves. Yet, it is mostly among the Orthodox – the very individuals who are supposed to be known for their acts of mercy, kindness and generosity, that there seems to be a lack of empathy and stinginess of heart.

Rather than inviting those who are not 100% Jewish to join us since they still have Jewish blood, they are willing to shut the door on them and say, “You’re not one of us.”

Most of us have mixed origins

Well, they are one of us and certainly many of our enemies thought so when they called them Jews even if they just had one Jewish grandparent.  How is it that they could suffer persecution and death for having a smaller percentage of the same ethnicity that we all have, but that lesser percentage doesn’t allow them entrance into the state, which was established as a refuge for those with Jewish blood?

None of this makes any sense, but it does reveal the hearts of those who want nothing less than a pure race represented in their country. There is no country which is made up of a 100% pure race. Unless there has never been intermarriage between ethnicities or races, most of us have mixed origins, even Jews.

The question we must ask ourselves, though, is whether or not the grandchildren of Jews have enough Jewish blood to be killed because if they do, then it is incumbent upon us to open our doors wide and embrace them not only as citizens but also as part of us. Undoubtedly, as they begin to live here for any length of time, they will come to value and enjoy Friday night family dinners, a restful Shabbat and the excitement of our cultural and historical holidays, such as Independence Day. They will be able to teach the significance of the biblical Jewish holidays to their own children who will, one day, serve in the army and protect us from our enemies who still want to destroy us.

BUT LET’S be honest, if anyone thinks the grandchildren of Jews are the ones who are hurting our ranks, by not being authentically part of us, not sharing our culture and values, and not celebrating our holidays, we should first look at a reasonably large segment of Sabras – Jewish Israelis who were born in the land of Israel, because many of them do not observe Shabbat, do not eat kosher food and do not even necessarily have a bar or bat mitzvah for their children. Does that mean they are also not part of us? Does that mean that they are diluting the culture and putting our nation at risk?

Haredim take part in a protest in Mea She’arim against the municipality opening a nearby road on Shabbat. (credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)Haredim take part in a protest in Mea She’arim against the municipality opening a nearby road on Shabbat. (credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

To state such a thing would be unthinkable, right? But they were born here and so that gives them the right to live any way that they want. Yet, when the grandchildren of Jews make the conscious decision to live here, either because they do want a stronger connection to the land of their relatives or because they feel vulnerable to the persecution that follows grandchildren with Jewish names or even Jewish faces, Israel has a moral obligation to protect them.

A moral obligation to protect grandchildren of Jews

And if Israel has a moral obligation to protect them, then Israel’s citizens also have a moral obligation to make them feel wanted and connected. We live in perilous times where violence is pervasive, and no one knows that better than Jews. Nearly a day doesn’t go by that we don’t read something in our newspapers about the growing antisemitic sentiment among entertainers, politicians and others who make wild and fallacious claims that Jews rule the world, control the media and most of the money.  

Diaspora Jews, who often have no sentiment or connection to the land of Israel, are, nonetheless, guilty by association, and we saw that clearly after the Hamas missile attacks of 2021 when American and European Jews were hunted down by pro-Palestinian groups and individuals who wanted to express their anger for Israeli policy.

I’m going to venture a guess that a good number of those Jews on campuses and elsewhere, who were hunted down and persecuted, were not 100% fully Jewish, but what difference does that make. Again, if a grandfather, named Morris Goldberg married a gentile, his son still has the name Goldberg, and if that son also married a gentile and had a son, his name remains Goldberg too.

Must he be ashamed or fearful of an obviously Jewish name? And what if he is feeling a pull to explore his Jewish roots, because he certainly has them!  Must he be turned away because we, the Jewish nation, are feeling that too many of his kind are weakening our culture?

We have a choice to either see the glass half empty or half full. We owe it to these grandchildren of Jews to come home if that is what they choose to do.  For now, they can, because the law permits them to do so, but if anyone feels that this merciful law should be changed to exclude them, he should first look in the mirror and ask why a lesser percentage of Jewish blood doesn’t matter, especially in a world filled with hatred and violence towards people like us.

The writer is a former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal. She is also the author of Mistake-Proof Parenting, available on Amazon, based on the time-tested wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs.