February 6, 2009

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Mazuz: Adoption doesn't constitute conversion

Attorney general tells High Court adoption of child by non-Jewish
parents should not invalidate his right to make aliyah to Israel, by
virtue of his blood ties with Jewish people
Aviad Glickman

The adoption of a child by a non-Jewish family does not invalidate
his right to make aliyah to Israel in accordance with the Law of
Return, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told the High Court of
Justice on Monday.

Mazuz's issued his opinion in response to a petition filed by Regina
Bernik, who asked to make aliyah to Israel by virtue of her father's
Jewishness, although she was adopted by a non-Jewish couple as a

Bernik's request was turned down by the Interior Ministry, and she
decided to challenge it at the High Court.

The Law of Return, which was passed in 1950, is one of the
cornerstones of Israel as a Jewish state. The law states that every
Jew in the world is entitled to immigrate to Israel and receive
Israeli citizenship.

In 1970 an amendment to the law was passed that stated that the
eligibility to citizenship would apply to any Jew's spouse, his
children and grandchildren and their spouses, even if they are not
Jewish themselves.

According to Mazuz, the Law of Return does not discuss adoption and
does not refer to the possible implications of adoption on the right
of return. Therefore, the law is open to interpretation in this

Mazuz said that he preferred the legal interpretation by which
adoption does not constitute religious conversion, and therefore the
adoption process does not work to change the adopted child's religion
or biological affinity.

The biological offspring of a Jew who was adopted as child by a non-
Jewish family, and who seeks to make aliyah, is entitled to do so by
virtue of his own affiliation and blood ties with the Jewish people,
Mazuz stated. He added that the same should apply for a Jew's

The court's ruling is expected within a few days.

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