What could be block­ing th­ese Jews’ aliyah?

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A BLACK Jewish fam­ily from South Lon­don have been forced to de­lay their aliyah be­cause of un­ex­plained stonewalling by the Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties.

Carl and Maleka Levy — Re­form con­verts to Ju­daism from Rasta­far­i­an­ism — had been set to be­gin a new life with their five daugh­ters in Ashkelon three months ago.

But this week the fam­ily, who are reg­u­lar wor­ship­pers at Brom­ley Re­form Syn­a­gogue in Kent, vented their frus­tra­tion at the fail­ure of Is­rael’s In­te­rior Min­istry to ap­prove their em­i­gra­tion.

“It’s aw­ful,” said Mrs Levy, whose youngest, 10-mon­thold daugh­ter was named Ah­liyah in an­tic­i­pa­tion of their move. “As far as we un­der­stand, Is­rael wel­comes peo­ple home. We are Jewish, so I don’t see why we are be­ing treated this way.” Is­rael’s Law of Re­turn, grant­ing cit­i­zen­ship to d i a s p o r a J e w s , makes no dis­tinc­tion be­tween Pro­gres­sive and Ortho­dox con­verts. But in re­cent years, the In­te­rior Min­istry has tried to im­pose new con­di­tions on the en­try of con­verts.

Rabbi Uri Regev, the Is­rael-based pres­i­dent of the World Union for Pro­gres­sive Ju­daism, said: “It is un­for­tu­nate and re­gret­table that ob­sta­cles are be­ing put in the way of the Levy fam­ily, who should be fully treated as fel­low Jews by the state of Is­rael. We do not know of any ob­jec­tive rea­son why they should be treated dif­fer­ently, other than the colour of their skin.” An In­te­rior Min­istry of­fi­cial said on Wed­nes­day that she could not go into the case with­out be­ing given a pass­port num­ber of the Levys — in­for­ma­tion un­avail­able to the JC.

One pos­si­ble rea­son for the min­istry’s stance — cited by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the fam­ily — is that of­fi­cials may sus­pect a link with the Black He­brews, a sect not recog­nised as Jewish, which is based in the south­ern Is­raeli town of Di­mona.

Five years ago, Mrs Levy went to Di­mona to have her fourth daugh­ter, Shlomeet, also a He­brew name, be­cause she is a be­liever in nat­u­ral birth and an Is­raeli Jewish friend in the UK had told her about a nat­u­ral-birthing clinic in the town.

“I was very ex­cited. It’s the land that I love and I’d be spir­i­tu­ally con­nected even more,” she said. “What bet­ter way

PHOTO: JOHN RIFKIN

Maleka and Carl Levy

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