Identifying Jewish roots

October 24, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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The Jerusalem based Triguboff Institute is leading a groundbreaking research to help reformulate the policy to regulate the Jewish status of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union.

Shalom Norman

Shalom Norman

The initiative, is a joint effort of the Tzohar Rabbinic Organization, the Harry Oscar Triguboff Institute, the Friedberg Foundation and the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption. It will examine trends among immigrants and their children who emigrated from the former Soviet Union (FSU) between 1990-2013, and their willingness to resolve their formal status as Jews in Israel.

“Shorashim”, a joint initiative of the Tzohar Rabbinic Organization, the Harry Oscar Triguboff Institute, the Friedberg Foundation with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Services, is helping immigrants of the FSU in resolving their status as Jews vis a vis the religious-governmental bodies in Israel. With the help of philanthropic organizations, a team of experts comprising of historians, Rabbis and language experts are assisting at every state of the status resolution process. Through channels that cross borders and continents, the “Shorashim” experts are obtaining the information and documentation that are missing for thousands of immigrants from the FSU that are required in the Rabbinical courts for the conversion process and during the resolution of their formal status as Jews in the country.

The new research is being led by the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, Professor Zev (Vladimir ) Chanin, as well as the Chairman of the “Shorashim” initiative, the Director of the Triguboff Institute, Mr. Shalom Norman. The research itself is being conducted by the “Pori Institute “and is based on a comprehensive sample that is representative in an unusually large manner. The research will include personal interviews with over 1,200 interviewees across the country. The results of the research will be published during the first half of 2014.

Harry Triguboff      Photo: Ingrid Shakenovsky

Harry Triguboff Photo: Ingrid Shakenovsky

The research is significant in that it examines the crystallization and adoption processes of Jewish identity among the second and third generation of immigrants, in order to evaluate their willingness to resolve their identities as Jews in a formal manner.

Shalom Norman, Director General of the Triguboff Institute said, “There is widespread agreement and a feeling that immigrants of the FSU that have come here in recent years have been integrated  into Israeli society, but along with that, we are witnessing contradicting trends, alienation to the religious and governmental bodies, an increase in the amount of “Cyprus Marriages”, abstention from any contact with representatives of the religious establishment and a clear preference to bypass “the system” and work with the Tzohar Rabbinic Organisation to arranges their marriages.”

Norman added, “The status of tens of thousands of immigrants who came to Israel and registered as Jews has not been resolved with the rabbinic/governmental bodies and these people have to go through procedures, sometimes long and painful, to verify and recognise their “Jewish Lineage” by the State Rabbinic Courts. Additionally, each year some 3,500-4,000 children are born in Israel that do not have any recognized status. Their status as Jews is not fully formalised, by the Ministry of the Interior and the state rabbinic institutions do not recognise them. Nowadays reality forces many, not necessarily by choice, to marry abroad, in Cyprus Prague or Sofia in a non- Jewish manner.  This growing trend is disastrous: It will create divisions within the Jewish society, in which Jews will be graded by their lineage as first, second, and third class Jews.”

Sydney-based Harry Triguboff  heads Australian property company Meriton.

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