New Immigration policy needed

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister appointed a Committee to look into the possibility of outreach to people around the world who are not Jewish, yet may have an affinity to Jews, Judaism and Israel.  The Committee presented its Report to the government this week, with recommendations that Israel identify these communities and extend outreach to them
Five concentric circles are identified as follows:
(1) Current Jewish “core” of those recognized as Jews in Israel and the Diaspora: 14 million;
(2) Others that qualify for the Law of Return (one Jewish grandparent), including family members: 9 million;
(3) Those that can be considered “distant relatives” of current Jews: 5 million
(4) Descendents of Anousim that have already declared their Jewish affinity: 35 million;
(5) Descendents of Anousim that are still undeclared or unaware of their Jewish roots: 60 million.
Total: Over 120 million.

Jerusalem Post, Letters to the Editor, April 1, 2018

New policy needed

In relation to “Diaspora Ministry: Millions around world with affinity to Judaism are ‘strategic asset’” (March 29), it is clear that the state has no current policy toward the “tens of millions of people around the world who have a connection to Judaism.”

One of the last such populations is the descendants of those Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain up to 500 years ago.  They are called Bnei Anusim in Hebrew. Estimates of the number of such people in the Spanish- Portuguese world are about 20 million.  Although they are not Jewish per se, many continue residual Jewish rituals in secret.

I recently wrote and published a book titled “The Reawakening” on specific individuals from this group who have in one way or another chosen to return to their ancestral Jewish roots.

It is past time that the State of Israel recognized this group and developed a definite policy toward it. This policy should include the establishment of conversion courses in Spanish and Portuguese in South America, the Iberian Peninsula and Israel; special visas to allow these people to stay and work in Israel while they take these courses; and recognition of their distinct nature by the Interior Ministry, just as it provided for Russian and Ethiopian Jews, and other marginally Jewish groups.

JACK S. COHEN 
Beersheba 

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