Israel’s rabbinate “has been performing genetic testing on Israelis from the former Soviet Union, to check if they are ‘genetically Jewish’ as a condition for marriage registration”, according to Ynet.
The new site reported that “at least 20 couples have come forward after having been asked to undergo the procedure in the past year.”
“Although the existence of such tests was initially denied by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau admitted to having requested that some couples prove their Jewish status,” Ynet added, noting that “Lau claimed those were isolated incidents and there was no coercion.”
Ynet’s investigation revealed that “the complicated procedure was undertaken not only by the couples themselves but also by their relatives.”
“In one instance, a young woman who went to the rabbinate before her wedding was asked to conduct a DNA test along with her mother and her aunt, in order to eliminate the possibility that her mother was adopted,” the article stated.
“The young woman was told that if she refused the request, her marriage application would be denied,” Ynet added. “The rabbinate has control over Jewish religious rites in Israel.”
“According to the evidence accumulated by Ynet, these instances are examples of what appears to be a growing phenomenon where those applying to register for marriage, are being asked to undergo genetic testing if they want to have their requests granted,” the paper stated.
“Unfortunately, there are immigrants who, despite their eligibility under the Law of Return, are not defined as Jews according to Halacha,” said Lau in response. “In a few cases, there are those who claim to be Jews, but don’t possess the necessary documents to confirm it…or we find contradictions between their statements and what we would uncover about them”.
“In these cases we suggest undergoing DNA tests that would strengthen their claims,” he said. “It’s never forced upon anyone and only used to assist applicants in the research process.”