A professor from St. Petersburg, Russia, is claiming that in an act of “blatant racism,” his daughter was made to undergo a DNA test in order to prove that she’s Jewish – and eligible for a Birthright trip to Israel.
The father, Dr. Shimon Yakerson, told the Hebrew daily Maariv that a Birthright administrator informed Masha, his daughter, that she’d have to take the test because her birth had only been registered when she was three years old, and that there were therefore doubts as to whether she was really his daughter.
The birthright employee, whom the report named as Tali Balan, also told Masha Yakerson, who was 19 at the time, that the DNA test would be necessary if she ever pursued aliya to Israel.
The test was required by the Israeli consulate in St. Petersburg, which specified that it could only be conducted by an Israeli expert, Balan reportedly said.
“This is blatant racism toward Russian Jews,” Shimon Yakerson was quoted as saying. “And even if we wanted to undergo such a test, we would be unable to afford it.”
Yakerson said that his daughter’s birth had been registered late because he was working in a rabbinical college in the United States when she was born.
He said that after appealing the decision, he was told that without a DNA test, his daughter would not be permitted to participate in the program or to make aliya.
“I said okay, let’s do the tests abroad, but they won’t accept it,” he was quoted as saying, noting that it would cost $12,000 to conduct the test according to Birthright’s specifications.
Reached for comment by Maariv, Birthright laid the blame at the doorstep of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Russia. The Foreign Ministry, however, denied that its consulates had the authority to make such a demand.