High Court rules children of Jewish convert who hid them from the state can become citizens

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

The High Court of Justice rules in favor of an appellant seeking the naturalization under the Law of Return of children born to him before he converted to Judaism, whom he had hidden from the state.

The ruling, described by the Haaretz newspaper as precedent-setting, relates to an appeal by a man from the Black Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona. It follows a ruling by the Beersheba District Court that rejected the man’s petition to obtain citizenship for seven of his 11 children under the Law of Return as they were born before his 2005 conversion to Judaism in his native United States and subsequent immigration to Israel.

The Law of Return applies to Jews, their spouses, their children and their grandchildren. The man’s naturalization in 2006 under the Law of Return is the basis for the naturalization of his wife. But the seven children born before 2006 are a more complicated issue, further complicated by the fact that the man had hidden their births from the authorities for years.

Justice Ruth Ronnen, who ruled in favor of the appeal along with Justice Uzi Vogelman, cited contradictions stemming from the Population and Immigration Authority’s refusal in 2019 to naturalize the seven children and disputed the relevance of the timing of a parent’s conversion to the eligibility of their children to be granted citizenship under the Law of Return.

Justice Alex Stein in his minority ruling insists that whereas the children may apply to be naturalized under other provisions, the one under the Law of Return does not apply to them. “The law is the law, even when it means we’re unable to bring the human story before us to a happy ending,” he writes.

Most Popular