More than half of the immigrants to Israel in 2018 were not recognized as Jewish under religious law.
According to end of year data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, of the 30,300 immigrants who arrived in Israel last year under the Law of Return, some 12,600 were recognized as Jewish and 17,700 were not.
That means 54 percent of the new immigrants were not Jewish by the standards of Israel’s state rabbinate. Some 39% were recognized as Jewish and 7% were Arab.
Under the Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish grandparent can immigrate to Israel. But he or she must have a Jewish mother in order to be registered as Jewish by the state’s religious authorities.
Most of the immigrants came from Russia, Ukraine, France, and the United States.
Up to 400,000 citizens of Israel are registered as “lacking a religion” by the Interior Ministry because they are not Jewish according to halacha, or Jewish law.