Stymied by Israeli Bureaucracy, Ukrainian Has Been Making Aliyah for Years

Jew Self-Identified as 'Christian' on Immigration Form

Not So Fast: Yuriy Yukhatskov has been trying to immigrate to Israel for three years, but has been denied due to what he says is an error he made filling out a form.
Ben Sales/JTA
Not So Fast: Yuriy Yukhatskov has been trying to immigrate to Israel for three years, but has been denied due to what he says is an error he made filling out a form.

By Ben Sales

Published March 23, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(JTA) — Sitting in his sister’s living room in this town outside Tel Aviv, Yuriy Yukhatskov says he’s glad to be far from his home city of Kiev.

Yukhatskov, 44, says that what he sees as the pervasive anti-Semitism in Ukraine’s capital would grow only worse with the country’s recent unrest. He fears that last month’s revolution could lead to a government unfriendly to Jews.

Israel feels foreign to Yukhatskov, but he’s grateful to be able to walk to synagogue wearing his kippah without enduring taunts or dirty looks.

His only problem is that in two weeks, Israel might kick him out for being a Christian.

Yukhatskov and his mother applied in 2011 to immigrate to Israel and join his sister, who moved here in 2008.

His mother was approved to immigrate, but things did not go as smoothly for Yukhatskov.

One of his answers on Israel’s extensive application for aliyah put Yukhatskov in Israeli bureaucratic limbo, where he’s been for nearly three years.

The form asked for his nationality, home country and religion. Under nationality he wrote “Jewish.” Under home country he wrote “Ukraine.” And under religion he wrote “Christian.”

Israel’s Law of Return allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to immigrate to the country. The only exceptions are Jews who have embraced another religion; Yukhatskov would be ineligible for aliyah if he were Christian. So based on his answer, Israel denied his aliyah application.

Of course he’s Jewish, Yukhatskov says, wearing a white-knit kippah and retelling his story as if he’s gone through it countless times. He says he misunderstood the form and thought the “religion” line referred to Ukraine’s religion, not his own.

“I didn’t write that I was Christian,” he said, his sister translating his Russian to Hebrew. “I didn’t understand what they were asking me. I wrote automatically that I was Jewish, but that the religion of the country is Christianity.”

The Israeli Population and Migration Authority has refused to accept Yukhatskov’s explanations, though it is allowing him to repeat the application process.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.