Rabbinical detective work

London. I have an appointment at the Chief Rabbi’s Office in North Finchley, to pick up a letter confirming that I’m Jewish. There was some rabbinical detective work and the names on my birth certificate were matched to the names on my parents’ ketubah, their marriage contract. A rabbi printed out the letter and signed it. The business took all of ten minutes.

He tells me to get an early flight, if possible. When his disabled son made aliya he was kept waiting at immigration at Ben Gurion airport for hours.

I asked Moran, my immigration liaison, if it’s only Jews who are made welcome. Is it as easy for others? She says, Only Jews? Yes, of course. She gives me one of those looks that says she’s never heard anything so stupid, and the matter is closed. The only question I’m asked more than once during the process is if I’m a Messianic Jew. It is a sect that doesn’t even recognise Israel as a Jewish nation. I would be turned away if I were, I think.

I needed so little documentation. This letter, my passport, my birth certificate, some passport pictures, not much else. I signed some forms, paid, I think, a £50 admin fee. So little for such a big change. It was so simple, I never stopped to think if I really wanted to leave London. It has become something that I’m doing, passed from air to concrete, with barely a bump. Indeed, I don’t know how to think about it, I’ve never done anything like this before.

Today’s word: mismachdocumentמסמך

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