Aliyah after Conversion to Judaism (Giyur)
Other articles on the Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm website discuss making aliyah as a tourist within Israel or immigrating to Israel with your family. Another way to make aliyah to Israel is as a converted Jew, through the process of conversion to Judaism (giyur). This article by Advocate Joshua Pex, a lawyer specializing in immigration to Israel, will help explain the conditions required for conversion to Judaism to be accepted as valid by the state of Israel.
How to Get the State of Israel to Recognize Your Giyur So You Can Make Aliyah after Your Conversion
The question of “Who is a Jew?” is a fundamental and unresolved discussion in Israel. According to the 1950 Law of Return, any Jew has a right to make aliyah to Israel. In practice, however, things are a bit more complex. The state of Israel naturally does not want every person in the world to have the right to immigrate to Israel merely by declaring that they are a Jew. Even receiving a certificate from a random rabbi should not be enough to allow for aliyah after conversion to Judaism, which a person might have only done for the purpose of immigration.
Unfortunately, the state of Israel often rejects requests to make aliyah to Israel following a conversion to Judaism. The Ministry of Interior processes immigration requests and has special procedures for determining whether the conversion is “sincere.” Sometimes, this is due to the applicant not having demonstrated a desire to be involved in Jewish community life or a sense of Jewish identity before (or even after) the conversion process. On other occasions, the state’s attitude may have to do with giving a preference to Orthodox Judaism over any other movement in Judaism.
How To Ensure the Israeli Government Recognizes Your Conversion to Judaism
In order for your conversion to be formally recognized, a number of conditions need to apply:
1. The community into which one is converted must be a recognized Jewish community (Conservative and Reform communities are recognized equally, with Orthodox communities being more equal).
2. The convert must have been an active member of the Jewish community for at least nine months prior to the conversion. In the event that the convert was not active in a Jewish community for at least nine months, documents confirming the convert was involved in at least 350 hours of preparation in studies toward the conversion must be provided.
3. Documents confirming that the convert was active in a Jewish community for at least nine months after the conversion approval. If the aliyah applicant did not finish nine months of involvement within a recognized Jewish community after the conversion approval, the Ministry of Interior may grant the applicant an A-5 temporary residency status which would be upgraded to full citizenship after the applicant proves that he is involved in a recognized Jewish community in Israel for at least nine months.
Other Necessary Documents
Other documents needed in order to prove the sincerity of one’s conversion to Judaism are:
1. A conversion certificate.
2. A letter by the converted person which explains the motivation behind their conversion process and their involvement within the Jewish community before and after the conversion.
3. A detailed explanatory letter by the relevant rabbinical court or the head of the Jewish community regarding the conversion process, which will detail the conversion preparation, the content of the conversion studies, and the duration of the conversion. The letter will be signed by the actual Jewish community leader who wrote the letter, which includes the letterhead, logo, and address of the Jewish community.
4. A letter by the rabbi or the head of the Jewish community where the convert resides, which will explain the involvement of the convert in the Jewish community after the conversion and which explains the duration of the involvement of the convert within the Jewish community after the conversion. The letter will be signed by the actual Jewish community leader who wrote the letter, which includes the letterhead, logo, and address of the Jewish community.
Contact Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm for more information about aliyah to Israel as a convert and for general information about immigration to Israel.