Last Thursday, after four years of hardship and bureaucracy struggle, Y. (full name withheld), a terminally ill immigrant, was finally granted permission to convert and marry his sweetheart.
The pair, who were born into gentile families, began a conversion process several years ago in the United States. Four years ago, the pair sought to live as Jews in Israel and decided to immigrate to and settled in an observant community in northern Israel.
Upon their arrival to Israel, Y. and his wife wanted to officially become citizens and obtain recognition of their Jewishness from the Ministry of Interior and the Chief Rabbinate. Their request was rejected repeatedly for four years, due to the lack of recognition of conversion they received abroad. As a result, and in order to become full citizens of Israel, they decided to convert for a second time through Israel’s conversion system.
This process quickly became very difficult due to bureaucratic difficulties the pair repeatedly encountered, during their long-awaited conversion.
However, a month ago, Y.’s health had deteriorated following the diagnosis of a terminal illness. Due to the fact that he was still not a citizen, Y. was abstained from medical rights and coverage which left him helpless.
It was at that point that the pair realized they needed urgent help and they contacted the Itim organization, which helps people navigate the religious authorities' bureaucracy in Israel. With the organization’s help, the pair finally succeeded in overcoming the bureaucratic challenges and were finally able to undergo the process of conversion.
The Orthodox conversion and wedding ceremonies were held one after the other in a location close to their home in the northern city of Afula, last Thursday.
Now, representative from Itim are confident that the Ministry of Interior will accept their Aliyah application. However, until they receive health coverage, the organization has been helping Y. receive the medical treatment he needs.
“The event held last weekend did not leave one dry eye. After all the politics and bureaucracy, we sometimes tend to forget how ultimately, it benefits the lives of people in the most personal way,” Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, chairman of Itim.