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January 12, 1990 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-12

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born as Jews in South
Africa. After marrying in
1982, they applied for per-
mission to immigrate to
Israel. A Jewish Agency
emissary discovered that the
couple belonged to the group
known as "Jews for Jesus"
and informed them that they
were not elegible for an en-
try visa under the Law of
Return.
In 1986, the Beresfords
entered Israel on a visitor's
visa. They reapplied for en-
try in terms of the Law of
Return, but were turned
down by the Interior Min-
istry on the ground that they
were "members of a
different faith." The couple
then petitioned the High
Court of Justice to order the
ministry to give them an
immigrant visa because
"they were Jews and not
members of a diffei-ent
faith." In any case, they
argued, they had the right to
immigrant visas, because
they were the children of
Jews and did not convert
voluntarily.
The Interior Ministry,
however, told the High
Court that although the
Beresfords were born of
Jewish parents, they are
members of a different faith
who converted voluntarily
and are, therefore, ineligible
for immigrant visas.
The 90-page ruling was
written by Justices
Menahem Elon and Aharon
Barak, with Justice
Avraham Khalima concurr-
ing. Although agreeing with
each other on their conclu-
sion, Justices Elon and
Barak reached it by different
paths.
Elon interprets the Law of
Return from a halachic-
religious viewpoint; Barak
from a "secular, liberal and
dynamic" one.
Elon defines "not a
member of a different faith"
in terms of the "spiritual
and historical pathways of
Judaism." By this criterion,
he writes, it is "clear and
simple" that the petitioners
are "members of a different
faith" and therefore ineligi-
ble for rights granted by the
Law of Return to Jews who
make aliyah. Elon em-
phasized that the Beresfords
regard their belief in Jesus
as the central element in
their faith. It is irrelevant
that they celebrate Jewish
holidays and declare them-
selves to belong to the
Jewish people whose wellbe-
ing they seek.
Barak, however, held that
the criterion for deciding
who is a Jew should not be
halachic.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

33

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