To get married in Israel, Dima Motel had to bring his family photo album and two of his ancestors’ birth certificates to a rabbinical court.
Then an investigator quizzed his mother in Yiddish. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate often asks Russian immigrants like Motel to prove that they’re Jewish, sometimes requiring documentary evidence that can be hard to obtain. Those who won’t submit to the process or who can’t firmly establish their Jewish bona fides can’t get legally married in the country.
“I felt like it was an invasion of my privacy,” said Motel, 27, who was declared Jewish after three hours of questioning. “It’s called an investigation of Judaism. It seemed like I was accused, but I didn’t do anything wrong.”
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