To be distributed in a few copies to each group of participants after being read aloud by the clerk, who receives a copy at the outset of the preparations.


Document #1: Oswald Rufeisen vs. the Minister of the Interior

Before the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, for an order of mandamus subsequent to an order nisi.

The applicant was born in Poland in 1922 to Jewish parents and educated in Jewish values. In his adolescent years he was an active member of a Zionist youth organisation and spent two years on a hachshara programme to prepare himself for halutzic aliya. With the outbreak of the war between Germany and Russia (June 1941), he was imprisoned by the Gestapo but managed to escape. After procuring a certificate as a German Christian, he became the secretary and translator at the German police station in Mir, the regional capital. During this time in Mir he would inform the Jews of German moves and plans against the Jews. When he heard that the Germans were planning to liquidate the Mir ghetto, he informed the Jews in the town and surrounding areas, and supplied them with arms. As a result of this warning, many of them escaped from the ghetto and joined the partisans; most of these survivors are alive in Israel today. Rufeisen was denounced and interrogated by his superiors; once again he was imprisoned and once again he escaped. For a long while he sheltered in a convent from where he left to join the ranks of the Russian partisans at the first opportunity. The Russians suspected him of being a German spy and condemned him to death but he was reprieved when one of the Mir survivors came to his defence. He was eventually decorated by the Russians for his partisan activities.

In 1942, during the period at the convent, the applicant converted to Christianity and in 1945 took vows, choosing to enter the Carmelite order, aware that this would eventually enable him to move to a Carmelite monastery in Eretz Yisrael. During our War of Independence and on numerous subsequent occasions, the applicant requested permission from his superiors to be allowed to come on aliya to Israel, but this permission was not forthcoming until 1958. In all those requests to the Polish authorities he emphasised that, despite his conversion to Christianity, he had never ceased considering himself to be an ethnic Jew, bound heart and soul to the Jewish people. The travel Document issued by the Polish authorities was of the type granted only to Jews leaving Poland permanently for Israel, so from his country of origin's point of view, he did come to Israel as a Jew. His application for an immigrant's certificate (te'udat oleh) and registration as a Jew in his Identity card (te'udat zehut) was rejected by the Minister of the Interior on the basis of the Government Ordinance of 20/7/58, which determines that only a person who declares in good faith that he is Jewish and does not belong to another faith may be registered as Jewish.


Document #2: Law of Return - Israel Basic Law 1950 / 5710

(For all participants!)

1. Every Jew has the right to immigrate to the country.

2. (a) Immigration shall be on the basis of immigration visas.

    (b) Immigrant visas shall be issued to any Jew expressing a desire to settle in Israel except if the Minister of Immigration is satisfied that the applicant:

  • (i) acts against the Jewish nation; or

    (ii) may threaten the public health or State security.

    3. (a) A Jew who comes to Israel and after his arrival expresses a desire to settle there may, while in Israel, obtain an immigrant certificate.

        (b) The exceptions listed in Article 2 (b) shall apply also with respect to the issue of an immigrant certificate, but a person shall not be regarded as a threat to public health as a result of an illness that he contracts after his arrival in Israel.

      4. Every Jew who migrated to the country before this law goes into effect, and every Jew who was born in the country either before or after the law is effective enjoys the same status as any person who migrated on the basis of this law.

      5. The Minister of Immigration is delegated to enforce this law and he may enact regulations in connexion with the implementation and for the issue of immigrant visas and immigrant certificates.

      [The 'Law of Return' was passed unanimously by the Knesset on 5 July 1950 and incorporated into the state legislation.]


      Document #3: "Who is a Jew" - Barbara Weill

      Make several copies of this article in the following file


      Document #4: Oswald Rufeisen's Emigration Application to the Polish Authorities:

      Copies should be made for rufeisen, his lawyers, the judges, the clerk & the state attorney.

      I, the undersigned, Oswald Rufeisen, and in the monastery Brother Daniel, hereby respectfully apply for permission to proceed to Israel for good and to be issued with a passport.

      I base my application on my Jewish national association, which I have preserved despite the fact that in 1942 I accepted the Catholic faith, and in 1945 entered a monastery. I have stated this on every occasion on which I have been officially asked about it, including when I received my military papers and identity card.

      I chose a monastery which has a base in Israel in consideration of the fact that I would receive the consent of my superiors to proceed to the country for which I have yearned since my childhood as a member of a Zionist youth group. My national association is known to the church authorities. I believe that by my emigration I will be able to serve Poland, which I deeply love, among its sons scattered throughout the world, including the country to which I am going. I attach a confirmation from the Israel Legation to Poland.


      Document #5

      Copies should be made as for document no.4, with the addition of the legal expert in group e.

      Israel Bar Yehuda, Minister of the Interior: Reply to Oswald Rufeisen:

      ... A bona fide declaration of belonging to the Jewish people should be sufficient for the State of Israel for the registration of that person as a Jew, and has nothing to do with his religion, an issue about which the civil authorities are not competent to make decisions.

      Everything I have heard and read about you is sufficient in my eyes and beyond all possible doubt for your rights to apply for and be recognised as a member of the Jewish people - and even had I doubts, because of your special situation, as to the possibility of your complete integration into the body of this nation. However, the government has decided otherwise.

      Documents 6-9 for the legal specialists, plus all receiving documents 4 & 5.


      Document #6: Registration of Population Ordinance 1949:

      ...establishes a National Register for inhabitants who shall be registered according to:

      "nationality, ethnic group** and religion"

      (** ethnic group or community, cf. Background articles)


      Document #7: Government Ordinance 20/7/58

      "A person who declares in good faith that he is a Jew and he is not a member of some other religious faith, will be registered as a Jew."


      Document #8 Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law 1953 Enactment

      "Matters of marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel, being nationals or residents of Israel, shall be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Rabbinical Courts and marriages and divorces of Jews shall be performed in Israel in accordance with Jewish Law (Halakha)."


      Document #9: Notes on Israeli Citizenship


      • 1. There is only one class of Israeli citizenship - full citizen.

        2. Citizenship is granted by birth or descent, to all those normally resident in Israel on the 14th. May 1948 (the day the state was declared).

        3. Religion, race or sex are not a bar to Israeli citizenship.

        4. Citizenship can be acquired by a five-year naturalization process as in many other countries with a liberal immigration policy.

        5. Citizenship can be requested and granted under the Law of Return, at the discretion of the Minister of Immigration (later: of the Minister of the Interior).




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      15 Aug 2005 / 10 Av 5765 0