JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
Twenty families of B’nai Israel Jews from India ended today a month-long demonstration outside the offices of the Jewish Agency over a variety of grievances, when they were promised a meeting with Premier Levi Eshkol.
The principal complaint involved a long-running dispute with the Israeli rabbinate, which had questioned the validity of the Jewishness of the B’nai Israelites. The dispute had led to charges of refusal by Israeli marriage registrars to wed B’nai Israel Jews with Jews of other communities in Israel. After widespread protests, the Israel Rabbinate set up regulations for such marriages requiring investigation of the Jewish backgrounds of B’nai Israel marriage applicants.
The 20 families set up tents outside the Jewish Agency offices and conducted a demonstration by squatting in the tents. During the month, their cause was widely discussed in the local press and recently received formal support from the League Against Religious Coercion, which was organized to fight the exclusive control over matters of personal status maintained over Israeli Jews by the Israeli rabbinate. The families dismantled their tents today after they were promised a meeting with Premier Eshkol next Wednesday.
Announcing the end of the demonstration, the families said that the Jewish Agency had promised to reinstate them in jobs and that individual attention would be given to the special integration problems of each family.