Aliyah heart­break

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

than to have my baby there. I was over the moon.”

But as for any ties with the Black He­brews, she said: “They come from Amer­ica. What is this got to do with us?”

Brom­ley Re­form Syn­a­gogue’s Rabbi Tony Ham­mond said the Levys “are a well-liked fam­ily who are in­volved in the syn­a­gogue and who have em­braced their Ju­daism whole­heart­edly. They have been put in a ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion. We’re look­ing for it to be put right and for the com­mu­nity here and in Is­rael to sup­port them.”

Mr Levy is an odd-job man, aged 51, who came to Bri­tain from Ja­maica in 1969. When he was young, “my mum told me I’d got a Jewish name but I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what she was talk­ing about”. It was only when he adopted Rasta­far­i­an­ism in his 20s and started read­ing the Bi­ble that “I re­alised where my name came from”.

But he and his English-born wife, who is a dress­maker, felt some­thing was miss­ing. “Read­ing the Bi­ble, we no­ticed the Ras­tas wasn’t ob­serv­ing the laws… cel­e­brat­ing the Holy Days and keep­ing Shab­bat. We felt that was im­por­tant,” he said.

Keen to ex­plore Ju­daism, they looked up the near­est syn­a­gogue, Brom­ley, a 20-minute drive away, and were in­vited to a Shab­bat ser­vice. “I re­mem­ber a fam­ily came up and asked if we were Falasha [Ethiopian] Jews,” Mrs Levy laughed. “Af­ter the ser­vice, a fam­ily came up and said: ‘Would you like to come to tea?’ It was lovely. That’s one of the things that made us feel com­fort­able.”

Af­ter 18 months study­ing Ju­daism, with their chil­dren en­rolled in cheder, the Levys were for­mally con­verted by the Re­form Beth Din in 2004. But they had vis­ited Is­rael sev­eral years ear­lier at their Is­raeli friend’s prompt­ing.

“Read­ing the Bi­ble and then go­ing to the places in the Bi­ble was awe­some,” Mrs Levy told the JC. “There’s a beau­ti­ful song, Home Is Where The Heart Is. My heart was at home in Is­rael.”

Hav­ing first con­tacted the Jewish Agency’s aliyah de­part­ment in Lon­don two-and-a-half years ago, they say the de­part­ment’s emis­sary was “be­wil­dered” at the In­te­rior Min­istry’s stalling as they pre­pared their move this sum­mer. “We did ev­ery­thing we were re­quired to do,” Mrs Levy in­sisted.

A tower of boxes in their small liv­ing room awaits shipment to Is­rael. “Shlomeet said to me last month, ‘Aba [Fa­ther], when I am go­ing to start my new school in Is­rael?’” Mr Levy said. “If God wants his peo­ple to come home, why put bar­ri­ers in front of peo­ple?”

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