Rumania’s Chief Rabbi Says New Education Tax Does Not Affect Jews Seeking to Make Aliya to Israel

Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen said yesterday that Rumanian Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel are not affected by a recently published law requiring all emigrants to reimburse the government for the free secondary and higher education they had received.

Publication of the directive on November 6 caused widespread consternation among Jews around the world. Some Jewish leaders in the United States urged Congress and the Reagan Administration to withhold renewal of most favored nation trade status for Rumania on grounds that the new law violated the terms of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Foreign Trade Act which links trade with Communist bloc nations to their emigration policies.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN EMIGRATION AND ALIYA

According to Rosen, the Rumanian government, for many decades, has made a distinction between “emigration” and “aliya.” “A Jew who is going to Israel to reunite with his family and with his people, a Jew who is a remnant of the Holocaust who wants to participate in the rebuilding of his Holy Land, is not an ‘emigrant,’” Rosen declared.

“Therefore his problem was treated in a totally different way. The result is that 350,000 Rumanian Jews have already made their ‘aliya’; that means nearly 94 percent, and this happened without noise, without crashes, not against the will but with the approval of the Rumanian government.

“Therefore, I am authorized to state that over and above the about 1,600 Jews who had already received their passports for Israel before the 6th of November, 1982, the date of the publication of the mentioned law, another 124 Jews are receiving their passports at present and 45 of them have academic or high school education. All of them will leave the country without any payments, exactly the same conditions as before the 6th of November,” Rosen said.

The Chief Rabbi noted that “I am happy to ascertain that I was right when I expressed my hope that our problem will find a positive solution and that the most important thing for us is to react with a sense of responsibility and no hasty statements. My approach in this problem to the highest level has found once again a positive echo and full understanding,” he said.

Rosen added: “I am sure that the Jewish people all over the world, in Israel and in the diaspora, will agree with me when I express, once again, our gratitude and appreciation for the wise and ethical attitude of the Rumanian government concerning the problems of the Jewish population.”

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