The Law of Return is an Israeli law, which was passed on July 5, 1950. I this law, Jewish people with one or more Jewish grandparent, and their spouses were granted the right to relocate to Israel and acquire Israeli citizenship. Many of the Jewish people had been deported during the Nazi regime and many of these did not survive. Other Jewish people fled Nazi persecution, and now they and the survivors of the holocaust would be given the right to return.

Section 1 of the Law of Return declares “that ‘every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh [immigrant].’ In the Law of Return, the State of Israel gave effect to the Zionist movement’s ‘credo’ which called for the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state. In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people with at least one Jewish grandparent and a person who is married to a Jew, whether or not they are considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law.”

Each oleh (immigrant) under the Law of Return, was to be given on the day of arrival in Israel, or occasionally at a later date, a certificate confirming their oleh status. At that point, the person then has three months to decide whether they wish to become a citizen and can renounce their prior citizenship during this time. This is a decision that they must think over carefully, even before they make the decision to immigrate. They would have to quit jobs, sell homes (or at least rent them out), pull children out of school, etc. Still, the big decision must be made withing three months. Do they want to stay? If so, they must take the steps to proceed.

There have been changes to the law over the years. Since 2005, the right does not apply to residents of the West Bank or the Gaza strip due to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. The right to an oleh certificate may be denied if the person is engaged in anti-Jewish activity, is a hazard to the public health or security of the state, or has a criminal past that may endanger public welfare. All reasonable reasons to refuse entry. I wish the United States took some of these things seriously.

When Israel became a nation again on May 15, 1948, there was a need to “re-populate” the country with their own people. As of 2021, 3,340,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of people who do not have Jewish status under Orthodox Jewish interpretations of halakha received Israeli citizenship, as the law confers citizenship to all offspring of a Jew (including grandchildren) and their spouses. Halakha is often translated as “Jewish Law,” although a more literal translation of it might be “the way to behave” or “the way of walking.” The Bible also makes reference to this in Isaiah 43:5-6, “Fear not, for I am with you. I will bring your descendants from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.”

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