The Jewish Federations of North America: The Law of Return

By on January 26, 2023

The Jewish Federations of North America have long championed the Law of Return in its current form, and have been instrumental in bringing millions of Jews to Israel under the Law’s provisions, including, of course, during the current conflict in Ukraine.

The Law of Return was adopted in 1950 and is considered part of Israel’s foundational principles. In its original format, the law allowed anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish parent to receive citizenship upon immigration. In 1970 that law was broadened to include people with only one Jewish grandparent, regardless of whether they were considered Jews under Jewish religious law.

Numerous members of the new coalition now argue that this so-called “grandparent clause” has led hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish people to immigrate to Israel, which, they argue, “undermines the Jewish nature of the country.” (See here and here). As a result, there are strong pressures to amend the Law and remove the “grandparent clause.” See here for an opinion piece on why the law should be changed.

While members of the Religious Zionist Party, the two ultra-Orthodox parties, and some members of Likud have spoken out in favor of dropping the “grandparent clause,” numerous members of Likud, including Prime Minister Netanyahu himself, have said they are opposed to any changes. See here for arguments as to why the Law should not be changed.

For a more detailed background about the issue, see here.

Further recommended reading from JFNA: