In the Name of the Father

How many lifetimes of harassment must the daughter of a Jewish father live until the state recognizes the right to be part of the Jewish people and to make aliyah?

Family Court Refuses to Grant the Request of a Brother and Sister to Recognize Their Shared Jewish Father

Ina’s story starts in 1986 when she was born to a Jewish father, an Israeli citizen who lived in Uzbekistan at the time. After an intimate relationship with Ina’s mother, she gave birth to Ina in Uzbekistan. At birth, she was registered as the daughter of her late father. Her birth certificate and all official documents state her fathers name, and her parent’s relationship was not a secret.

Her father returned to Israel, and died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1988, before she had even visited him. The father had been married to another woman in Israel, and had an older child, Simeon, a half-brother to Ina. The boy knew his sister and kept in touch with her all these years. Eventually, they sought to unite and to bring her to his family to live in Israel.

This turned out to be the beginning of an endless journey to prove that Ina and her Simeon are children of the same father and different mothers. The siblings contacted the Interior Ministry to ascertain Ina’s eligibility for status and rights in Israel. They soon discovered that they had to go to court to prove that Ina is the daughter of the deceased father and her brother’s half-sister.

The siblings turned to New Family Organization. Attorneys Irit Rosenblum and Daphna Cohen-Stow helped them submit their request to Tel Aviv family court to recognize Ina as Simeon’s paternal half-sister, and also as the daughter of the deceased father Yoseph.

Family Court ordered them to perform a DNA test to prove their genetic connection. The results indeed proved that they share half of their DNA. But the court refuses to draw the inference that, if they are half-siblings, and they have different mothers, then they must share a father.

Armed with the ambiguous decree that they are half-siblings, the they are stuck in legal limbo. Without a judicial order that Ina is the daughter of a Jewish father, the Interior Ministry refuses to give her status and rights, including the right of immigration.

The frustrated and angry siblings are now asking if the State of Israel can not deduce that that if DNA tests prove that they are half-siblings but do not share a mother, then they must share a father. They ask the Interior Ministry what further steps must be taken. Exhume their father’s remains from his grave to extract his DNA?

I say that the court which recognized Ina and Simeon as brother and sister should also recognize Ina as the daughter of her father, so as to expedite her paternity registration procedure. It is a matter of principle, so that this woman can come to Israel under the Law of Return as the daughter of a Jew.

I oppose the court’s refusal to draw the obvious conclusion from the results of the DNA test and recognize her Jewish father. The state is looking for genetic accuracy to the point of absurdity. The court is ignoring the real request to recognize paternity to allow the sister to come Israel on the basis of her Jewish father.

About the Author
Irit Rosenblum identified a critical gap in law and human rights-the family. She broke new ground by pioneering the development of family human rights law in Israel and globally. She founded New Family in 1998 to practice her SocioLegal philosophy of the new family in which every individual has an inalienable right to establish a family and to exercise equal rights within it regardless of gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and status. Rosenblum drafted and promoted 20 family rights laws and wrote 17 Family Rights guides. She is a respected legal innovator and the recipient of distinctions in Israel and abroad.