MK Avi Maoz says he plans to involve the Chief Rabbinate in determining the Jewishness of people from the former Soviet Union applying for Israeli citizenship, a move that would likely make the process more difficult for applicants.
Maoz, who fiercely opposes non-Jewish immigration to Israel, announces his intention following a meeting with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau.
However, it is not clear how the Rabbinate would enter into the process, which is currently run according to Interior Ministry guidelines.
Maoz, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, is responsible for Nativ, a government organization that is responsible for determining the eligibility of potential immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
The organization makes its decisions based on interviews with applicants and whatever documentation they have showing they are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which guarantees citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent so long as they do not practice another religion.
In his meeting with Lau, Maoz says he wants to involve the Chief Rabbinate in the process as he believes it has “the ultimate halachic authority on issues of Jewishness and conversion,” using the Hebrew term for Jewish religious law.