Israel Rabbinate Orders Probe on Applications for Marriages

The Chief Rabbinate here issued instructions today, ordering that all applicants for marriage be investigated very carefully to see if their identity cards, listing them as “Jewish,” were valid and “in keeping with the Torah.”

According to a spokesman for the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Dr. Itzhak Nissim, the rabbinate was concerned about the correct identity of a relatively small number of immigrants described as Jews on their identity cards, but who were actually Christian in religion. These persons allegedly registered as Jews in order to be permitted to emigrate. Artery their arrival here, they allegedly reverted to Christianity–but their identity cards show them to have declared themselves as Jews. “While the number involved is small,” the Chief Rabbi’s spokesman declared, “the precedent is fraught with danger.”

Prior to the statement on behalf of Chief Rabbi Nissim, the Supreme Religious Council of Israel called on the Government “to state in clear terms that all questions of registration (of an Israelis religion) will be treated in accordance with Jewish law.” The Ministry of the Interior, which has jurisdiction over identity-card registrations, identifies adults in accordance with an applicant’s personal declaration of his religion, according to Rabbi Nissim. “This creates a unique category,” stated Chief Rabbi Nissim, “of citizens who are Gentile by religion and Jewish by nationality.”

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