(JTA) — Two black Jewish-Americans — a Florida woman and her son — reportedly were denied entry to Israel because authorities believed she was a member of the Black Hebrews community and planned to stay.
Idit Malka and her 10-year-old son, Kahxin, were detained for 48 hours at Ben Gurion Airport and returned to the United States, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday. They had arrived on June 12 and had return tickets for Aug. 20.
The mother and son were traveling to Israel for the wedding of Malka’s sister and to visit with her five other siblings who live there.
Malka, 40, underwent a Reform conversion to Judaism in 1995 and a Conservative conversion in 2004.
Her family moved to Israel and associated with the Black Hebrews when she was young, but separated from the movement when she was 13, Malka told The Jerusalem Post. She returned to the United States in her teens.
Israel does not recognize the Black Hebrews community as Jewish.
Malka attempted to immigrate to Israel in 2006, but left with her children in 2010 due to a mass of bureaucratic issues.
A spokeswoman for the Population and Immigration Authority told the Post that Malka should have coordinated her visit in advance — a measure that Malka rejected.
“As an American citizen, I shouldn’t need prior coordination to visit Israel. And a Jew does not need to coordinate before visiting her homeland,” she told the newspaper.