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Israeli Official Gives Assurances on Chicago Black Jewish Immigrants

The Israel Consul here has assured a local Jewish group that 39 black Jews from Chicago who arrived in Israel last month requesting immigrant status would be accorded the same treatment as all other Jews entering the country under the “law of return.” Consul Moshe Yegar gave his assurances to the Philadelphia Association of Black and White Jews, a group composed of more than 100 members including rabbis and community leaders.

They had expressed concern over doubts cast on the status of the Chicago group which is being housed temporarily in Dimona, in the Negev, under Jewish Agency auspices. The Israeli chief rabbinate which decrees who is and who is not a Jew is yet to render a decision in their case.

But Mr. Yegar noted that Black Jews from India, though not recognized by the entire Orthodox rabbinate in Israel, are permanently settled under the “law of return” which entitles every Jew to automatic citizenship. He said decisions on the Chicago group would not be influenced by considerations of skin color. The Chicago Negroes, including 15 children, arrived in Israel from Liberia where they tried to establish a communal settlement but were made to feel “unwanted.”