Aliyah under Suspicion
In the Israeli Supreme Court, in a recent appeal, the case dealt with a woman who had in 2006 converted to Judaism in America.
She asked to make Aliyah but the Minister of Interior denied the request for Aliyah claiming as a reason that the conversion wasn’t done in good faith. However, after reviewing the case the Ministry changed the reason for denial and claimed she was a potential danger to the public welfare because she was holding a minor illegally and suspected of possibly abducting that child.
“Sally” converted in 1993 and in a Conservative community in Atlanta. In 2006, she entered Israel with a granddaughter of her former husband, who at the time was 5 years old.
Sally claimed that the biological mother asked her to bring the girl to Israel. In addition, it was indisputable Sally had been raising the child.
A few months after entering Israel, Sally asked for the child (technically her former step granddaughter) and herself be both recognized as new immigrants under the Law of Return based on Sally’s conversion in Atlanta.
Sally also asked (in a separate petition in the Family Law Court) to be granted guardianship over the minor granddaughter. Moreover, in fact, the request for guardianship has yet to be ruled on by the courts, In 2011, Sally had her appeal against the ruling of the Ministry of Interior’s presented to the Israeli Supreme Court. In her appeal, it was claimed that her conversion was kosher and that she should receive immigrant status according to the Law of Return.
In their response, the Ministry of Interior asserted their doubts in the good faith of the conversion because Sally never belonged to any Jewish community after the conversion. However, the Ministry soon changed their reasoning for refusing immigrant status claiming because the guardianship of the child was in question that Sally was now being denied immigration status because she was being categorized as being a risk to the public welfare.
All of the three ruling judged rebuked all claims regarding the objections of the ministry about their doubts of the conversion. The judges were left with one issue to rule on if a crime had been committed and if Sally’s application could be refused under that rationale.
About the suspected abduction, the judges pointed out that Sally was never convicted of any crime, never even indicted and not even a complaint was brought before them about a possible criminal abduction.
As a result, an appeal was ruled against the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry was ordered to grant her immigrant status and pay her 40,000 NIS (only a fraction of her legal costs). The guardianship and fate of the child is still awaiting a ruling.