Rabbi Lau: Time Has Come to Amend Law of Return

By Hamodia Staff

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau. Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

YERUSHALAYIM — Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau has called on the incoming government to eliminate the so-called “grandchild clause” from the Law of Return, which offers citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent who does not practice another religion.

“For 10 years I have been asking to try to change this mistake of the third generation in the Law of Return — to fix it, to ensure that Israel will be a Jewish state, a state of Jews,” Lau said in remarks late Sunday night at the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries in New York.

Rabbi Lau’s Sephardic counterpart, Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef last week made a similar appeal, calling on the High Court to revise and override the grandchild clause.

Their comments come amid recent reports on the alarming percentage of non-Jews immigrating to Israel.

Last week, data published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) showed that almost three out of every four inbound immigrants from post-Soviet states under the Law of Return in 2020 were not Jewish.

CBS data show that over three decades the percentage of Jews among immigrants dropped steadily, from 93% in 1990 to only 28% in 2020.

A total of 1,124,822 people immigrated to Israel during that period — 64% of them Jewish according to Jewish law, that is, either born to a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism.

The number of non-Jewish immigrants stood at 402,797, and together with their descendants born in Israel, and excluding those who have passed away in the meantime or left the country, the number of immigrants who reported having no religious affiliation and ex-Soviet citizens in Israel stands at about half a million people.

As in the past, the proposal to amend the Law of Return has aroused the Reform groups and their allies in Israel.

Outgoing Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai (Labor) was quoted by Haaretz on Monday as saying that “it would be a strategic mistake second to none. The American-Jewish community has always been our bridge to the U.S. administration. A move like this could cause that bridge to become very shaky.”

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