TEL AVIV (Dec. 23)
Israeli officials decided today to admit 39 American Negroes–15 of them children–who arrived here unexpectedly yesterday declaring themselves Jews seeking to settle in Israel as immigrants. They have been given temporary visas for a three-month stay in the country pending the issuance of permanent residents permits.
The group, originally from Chicago, came here from Liberia where they had set up a communal type settlement. They told Israeli officials that they were made to feel unwanted in the African country and decided to go to Israel “where we belong.”
Whether the group will be granted immigrant status and the privileges that go with it remains to be seen. One possible obstacle is Israel’s chief Rabbinate which decrees who is and who is not a Jew. The rabbinate insists that Jewishness is determinable only by the Orthodox criteria which claims that a Jew is a person born of a Jewish mother or converted in accordance with Orthodox rites. Meanwhile the Jewish Agency has arranged for part of the group to settle temporarily in Dimona, in the Negev. Others may be settled near Nazerath and Arad. The new arrivals who are without funds, were invited to spend the night in the homes of local residents.