Information on whether couples in which the husband is Jewish and the wife is not are treated differently by the authorities and/or society than couples in which the wife is Jewish and the husband is not [ISR18747.E]

According to a professor of political science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, mixed Jewish/non-Jewish couples are treated no differently under the law than Jewish couples (26 Oct. 1994.). By law, neither the Israeli authorities nor the general population may treat a non-Jew differently than a Jew. The professor stated that any discrimination against a non-Jew or mixed Jewish/non-Jewish couple would only be found at the private and individual level (ibid.).

In a letter faxed to the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration and forwarded to the DIRB, the director of the Jerusalem branch of the Association for Americans and Canadians in Israel, who works closely with the Russian immigrant communities, stated that some Israelis do have negative attitudes towards Soviet émigrés. These attitudes are a product of a number of factors, including "resentment towards [the] high cost of absorbing immigrants, [and] abuse of [the] system by some immigrants (26 Sept. 1994, 5). The director also stated that
approximately 30 per cent of immigrants arriving fall into this category [of mixed Jewish/non-Jewish marriages]. She admitted that they may face some discrimination but pointed out that discrimination could be found towards different groups of Jews as well, such as the Ethiopian and Yemenite Jews (ibid.).
These sources indicate that couples are not deliberately discriminated against as a result of an interreligious marriage (ibid.; Professor of political science 26 Oct. 1994).

Please refer to the following Responses to Information Requests, available at your Regional Documentation Centre, for information on the treatment of couples in which the husband is Jewish and the wife is not: ISR17873.E of 11 July 1994, ISR17046.E of 14 April 1994, ISR15710.E of 17 November 1993 and ISR14267.E of 3 August 1993. For information on couples in which the woman is Jewish and the husband is a Palestinian Muslim, please refer to Response to Information Request ISR14334 of 16 June 1993, and the attachments from The Associated Press, St. Petersburg Times and The Jerusalem Report of 30 June 1994. Response to Information Request ISR15397.E of 29 September 1993 examines the situation of a couple in which the wife is Jewish and the husband Christian.

With the influx of Soviet émigrés, mixed Jewish/non-Jewish couples now include Jews who are not considered Jewish by the Rabbinical authorities (The Jerusalem Report 24 Feb. 1994, 15-16). The difference in the definition of Jewishness between the Law of Return and that of halakhah, Jewish religious law, has led to discrepancies in the treatment of Soviet émigrés to Israel (ibid.). For information on this subject, please consult the 24 February 1994 attachment from The Jerusalem Report. Under the Law of Return, having one Jewish grandparent is sufficient to be considered Jewish, however under halakhah, a Jew is either the child of a Jewish woman or is a convert (ibid.; Professor of political science 26 Oct. 1994). Although Israel's Law of Return grants citizenship to the non-Jewish spouses of Jews immigrating to Israel, it is the ultra-orthodox Jews, the Rabbinical authorities, who determine who is a Jew (The Washington Times 7 July 1993). According to The Jerusalem Report, unless the Rabbinical authorities recognize one's Jewishness, one is unable to marry a Jew, get divorced, adopt a child, or be buried as a Jew (24 Feb. 1994, 14-15). The source stated that according to experts, almost one third of the 500,000 Soviet émigrés who have come to Israel since 1990 are not considered Jewish under halakhah religious law (ibid., 14).

For information on converting to Judaism, please consult the 20 May and 19 February 1993 attachments from The Jerusalem Report.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada International Service, Ottawa. 3 October 1994. Fax received by the DIRB.

. 24 February 1994. Tom Sawicki. "The Wedding Banned." (DIRB "Israel" country file).

Professor of political science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 26 October 1994. Telephone interview.

The Washington Times. 7 July 1993. Final Edition. "Rabbi Refuses to Pray over Slain Immigrant." (NEXIS)


The Associated Press (AP). 26 April 1994. AM Cycle. Karin Laub. "Arab Husband Shuns Funeral Where Jewish Family Curses Wife." (NEXIS)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada International Service, Ottawa. 3 October 1994. Fax received by the DIRB.

Groffier, Ethel. 1987. Mariages et régimes matrimoniaux étrangers. Montréal: Sorej Inc., p. 78.

The Jerusalem Post. 19 February 1993. Haim Shapiro. "Reform Conversion Again Before the Courts." (DIRB country file)

The Jerusalem Report [Jerusalem]. 30 June 1994. Isabel Kershner. "Love & Death in Kiryat Ata," pp. 20-21.

. 28 July 1994. "Consulate Marriages." (DIRB Indexed Media Review [Ottawa], 26 July 1994-Aug. 1994, Vol. 8, No. 4)

. 24 February 1994. Tom Sawicki. "The Wedding Banned." (DIRB country file)

. 20 May 1993. Yossi Klein Halevi. "The Hard Road to Judaism," pp. 10-12.

St. Petersburg Times. 10 March 1994. City Edition. Nancie L. Katz. "Lovers: 'We Didn't Think, Arab, Jew'." (NEXIS)

The Washington Times. 7 July 1993. Final Edition. "Rabbi Refuses to Pray over Slain Immigrant." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Contemporary Religions: A World Guide. 1992.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Annually. 1994.

DIRB "Israel" country file. 1993-1994.

Documentation, Information and Research Branch (DIRB), Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa. February 1993. Israel: Jews from the Former Soviet Union.

Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties. Annually. 1993.

International Migration [Geneva]. Quarterly. 1992-present.

International Migration Review [New York]. Quarterly. 1992-present.

JDC-Brookdale Institute. 1994. Immigrant Absorption in Israel.

Religion in Politics. 1989.

Revue Europeenne des migrations internationales [Paris]. 1989-present.

Situation of Former Soviet Citizens in Israel. January 1993. Toronto: Transcontinental Consulting Company, Ltd. (unofficial translation of collection of documents)

On-line search of media sources.