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Publication Date: January 1989

Publisher(s): Jewish Agency for Israel

Author(s): Leonard Fein

Series: Forum: on the Jewish People, Zionism and Israel, vol.62, Winter/Spring 1989.

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Jewish Law (Halacha); Church and State; Diaspora Relations; Jewish identification

Type: Other


The author examines the uproar amongst American Jewry surrounding the Israeli governments attempts to revise the Law of Return, considering a halachic (Jewish legal) standard for the question of who is a Jew. The author contends that the heart of the debate is the divide between choice and circumstances -- meaning that American Jews are Jews by choice, whereas in Israel, Jews are Jews by circumstance.