Can a Jewish child adopted by a non-Jewish family and therefore not raised as a Jew, be entitled to make aliyah and receive Israeli citizenship? Would such an adoptee have the right to immigrate to Israel as an adult based on the law of return? The Israeli law firm of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh specializes in Aliyah, Israeli citizenship and immigration to Israel. In this article, Attorney Michael Decker will examine the immigration prospects of Jews or descendants of Jews who have been adopted by non-Jewish families. Having grown up in a non-Jewish environment, upon reaching adulthood, the adoptee may wish to immigrate to Israel. Do they have that right, based on Israeli legislation and legal precedent of the Israeli Supreme Court?

Is a Jewish child entitled to immigrate to Israel after being adopted?

Jewish child adopted by a non-Jewish family - entitled to make Aliyah?The Law of Return, 1950, defines a Jew as someone whose mother was Jewish or who converted to Judaism, provided they are not a member of another religion (Section 4B of the Law of Return). The Law of Return also allows children and grandchildren of Jews to immigrate to Israel, as well as to spouses of Jews and spouses of Jewish children and grandchildren (see section 4a(a) of the Law of Return). The question is: does the adoption of a person entitled to the right of return, in accordance with the above definitions of the Law of Return, cut off their entitlement to immigrate to Israel and the blood connection with their Jewish parents or grandparents?

The opinion of the Israeli Attorney General

The question of whether adoption by non-Jews cut off blood ties was decided by the Israeli Supreme Court. The case file was HCJ 9249/04: Regina Berenick v. Ministry of the Interior. Following numerous proceedings before the Ministry of the Interior, and the Supreme court, Attorney General Menachem (Meni) Mazuz submitted an evaluation.

In his professional opinion, Meni Mazuz determined that the Child Adoption Act, 1981, focuses on concerns other than those of the Law of Return (specifically on the status, rights and obligations of the adoptee vis-à-vis their parents, both biological and adoptive). The Law of Return, on the other hand, concerns the affinity of a person with the Jewish people. This opinion specifically states that the blood ties are not cut by adoption into a non-Jewish family. The adoptees are still entitled to make Aliyah due to their links to their biological Jewish parents and grandparents. Based on this opinion, the Petitioner, Regina Berenick, was granted full Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

Jewish child adopted and immigrating to Israel as an adult:

Adoption by a family entitled to return allows the adoptee to immigrate to Israel. A non-Jew is entitled to immigrate to Israel by virtue of adoption of a family entitled to return to Israel. There are reasons to believe the entitlement holds even in instances of unofficial, de-facto adoption. Therefore, a person entitled to return by the Law of Return (a Jew or descendant of a Jew) is entitled to immigrate to Israel even if adopted by a family that is not entitled to return. The entitlement is by virtue of blood ties to Jewish parents and / or grandparents.

Implementation of the Berenick ruling in practice:

Lawyers from our firm (Michael Decker and Joshua Pex) have applied the Berenick ruling in several cases. For example, in HCJ 7160/09, Timothy Steiger v. Minister of the Interior, it was decided to grant the petitioner, who was adopted by a non-Jewish family, Israeli citizenship as the son of a Jewish father, under section 4a(a) of the Law of Return. Therefore, if a person entitled to make Aliyah in accordance with the provisions of the Law of Return, was adopted by a family that is not entitled to return, they will have the right, as a rule, to make Aliyah to Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship as an Oleh.

Status of parents to a lone soldier:

If an adoptee is eligible for aliyah, and is entitled to immigrate to Israel and is drafted into the IDF as a lone soldier, they are entitled to request status in Israel for they parents, even if the parents are not eligible for Aliyah, according to the Population and Immigration Authority’s procedure.

Contact us – Israeli immigration lawyers

Our law firm in Jerusalem and Petah Tiqua, Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, specializes in issues of immigration to Israel. Contact us for legal assistance on matters of Aliyah after a Jewish child is adopted, or any other problem related to immigration to Israel.

Jewish child adopted by a non-Jewish family - entitled to make Aliyah?

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