Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

‘Emerging’ Jewish Groups Cheer Israeli Plan To Ease Visa Requirements

A government proposal to create a new status in Israel for people who have Jewish roots or belong to “emerging” Jewish communities was welcomed by leaders of communities that could be affected.

“This would be a big step forward,” Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya community in Uganda, told Haaretz. Members of that African community, who converted to Judaism over a decade ago, have seen some difficulties getting visas to study in Israel.

“Many of our members … would be thrilled to spend more time in Israel, especially to study,” Rabbi Barbara Aiello, the spiritual leader of a small congregation of self-identifying Bnei Anusim in Italy told Haaretz. Bnei Anusim are descendants of Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the inquisition.

Another group which could potentially be effected is the community of Kaifeng Jews in China, who have recently experienced government pressures because of their faith. Barnaby Yeh, an American activist who has been involved in the community expressed some skepticism about the implication that Kaifeng Jews would be interested in moving to Israel at all.

“The vast majority of them are either unable or unwilling to leave the city, let alone the country,” he told Haaretz. “The desire to emigrate has been grossly exaggerated.”

Last month, Haaretz reported on details of the still unpublished report, which is a project of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry. The committee drafted guidelines on how Israel should treat individuals with a connection to the Jewish people or Judaism — but who do not qualify as Jewish under Israeli law.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    NY-12 Candidate Forum

    THE TEMPLE EMANU-EL STREICKER CENTER and Virtual

    Aug 10, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    Will the last Jew left in New York’s congressional delegation be reelected? Will New York’s senior congresswoman receive another term? Or will one of the newcomers upend Manhattan politics?

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to the Foward. Have questions? Please email us at editorial@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.