Daily Israel Report

Rabbi Rosen: ID Cards Don't Affect Halachic Jewishness

Tzomet founder Rabbi Israel Rosen welcomed Minister Yishai's decision to return the 'Jewish' designation to ID cards.
By INN Staff
First Publish: 6/22/2011, 10:13 PM / Last Update: 6/23/2011, 6:14 AM

Rabbi Israel Rosen, the founder and head of the Tzomet organization, on Wednesday welcomed Interior Minister Eli Yishai's decision to return the nationality descriptor 'Jewish' to Israeli ID cards, saying 'nationality' alone has no meaning when making halachic determinations of 'Jewishness.'

"It was absurd from the outset that they removed nationality," Rabbi Rosen told Israel National News.

"When the Supreme Court decided to recognize non-Orthodox conversions the Orthodox demanded the 'Jewish' designation on all ID cards be removed even though there was no need. They were actually throwing the baby out with the water by removing identity from the certificate altogether."

Rabbi Rosen said the absence of any mention of Jewishness on Israeli ID cards has created many obstances.

"Today anyone that comes from the CIS is considered suspect as a Jew. In the past when a boy knew a girl had Jew on her Israeli identity car, he knew that there might be a chance she was not Jewish, but we had basis to work from," Rabbi Rosen said.

"Unfortunately, once nationality was omitted even that initial information that allowed us to tell whether you're Jewish or Gentile does not exist. Today there are at least three hundred thousand non-Jewish immigrants and we have no way of knowing unless you go to check the population registry," Rabbi Rosen explained.

Rabbi Rosen noted that even if someone who went through a non-Orthodox conversion is listed as a Jew on their ID card under the Law of Return, the Rabbinate will still refuse to marry them to a Jew.

"The rabbinate investigates no matter what is written on the identiry card," Rabbi Rosen said.

Rabbi Rosen asserted the omission of nationality on identity cards could cause converts emotional durress.

"For 15 years I worked in conversions, until my retirement two weeks ago. Converts would always tell me in tears, 'I stood with you at Sinai and you will not write the word 'Jew' on our ID cards.' This is a violation emotionally."