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Israel’s Olympic gold victory raises Jewish identification debate



JERUSALEM (AP) — Artem Dolgopyat fulfilled a lifelong dream when he gained a gold medal on the Tokyo Olympics. However again house in Israel, his hopes of buying and selling gold marriage ceremony bands together with his longtime girlfriend appear to be an unattainable dream.

The Ukrainian-born Israeli gymnast was hailed as a nationwide hero for profitable Israel’s second-ever gold medal — and its first in inventive gymnastics. However the celebrations have been tempered after his mom lamented that the nation’s authorities won’t enable him to wed as a result of he isn’t thought-about Jewish in keeping with Orthodox regulation.

“The state doesn’t enable him to marry,” Dolgopyat’s mom, Angela, informed 103FM in an interview Sunday.

Her feedback touched a uncooked nerve on this nation, which has repeatedly struggled with balancing issues of faith and state because it was based as a refuge for Jews 73 years in the past.

Below its “Regulation of Return,” anybody with a minimum of one Jewish grandparent is eligible for Israeli citizenship. However whereas Dolgopyat’s father is Jewish, his mom isn’t. Below “halacha,” or Jewish non secular regulation, one should have a Jewish mom to be thought-about Jewish.

This discrepancy has resulted in tens of hundreds of individuals, a lot of them from the previous Soviet Union, who stay within the nation and serve in its military however who’re blocked from Jewish rituals akin to weddings and funerals.

Israel doesn’t have a system of civil marriage and Israeli regulation mandates that Jewish marriages should be carried out by a rabbi licensed by the Chief Rabbinate. Christian and Muslim {couples} should additionally get married inside their religion.

Those that don’t meet the Orthodox requirements set by the rabbinate — together with same-sex {couples}, interfaith {couples}, and Israelis not thought-about Jewish by halacha — can’t get married in Israel. As an alternative, they have to journey overseas to marry.

Makes an attempt to legalize civil marriage have repeatedly foundered as a result of opposition by politically highly effective ultra-Orthodox events.

Dolgopyat’s mom informed the radio station that her son and his girlfriend have lived collectively for 3 years, “however they’ll’t marry. They should go overseas, however they don’t let him go overseas as a result of he all the time must do sports activities.”

The Olympic champion, for his half, tried to downplay the controversy. “These are issues I’ve in my coronary heart, it’s not proper to speak about this now,” he informed reporters in Tokyo.

However Dolgopyat’s marriage ceremony woes have dominated public discourse, with politicians and a raft of op-ed articles debating the difficulty of bringing civil marriage to Israel.

A 2019 survey by the Israel Democracy Institute discovered that just about 60% of Israeli Jews assist civil marriage.

“It’s not that Dolgopyat is entitled to marry in Israel due to the uncommon sports activities accomplishment he made, slightly as a result of he’s a citizen in a democratic nation,” Katya Kupchik, an activist with Israel Hofsheet wrote on the Hebrew news website Ynet. Israel Hofsheet advocates for civil marriages.

“He, like a whole lot of hundreds of others, ought not should obtain approvals or rejections from the Chief Rabbinate to be able to train a primary proper.”

Conversely, Yishai Cohen wrote in ultra-Orthodox newspaper Kikar Hashabbat: “I wouldn’t wish to stay in a rustic that makes profitable a sporting medal the usual for conversion” to Judaism. He mentioned a conversion requires accepting “the yoke of Torah and the commandments.”

Yair Lapid, Israel’s international minister, mentioned Monday at a faction assembly of his Yesh Atid celebration that he “will battle in each manner doable in order that there can be civil marriage” to ensure that Dolgopyat and others to marry in Israel.

“It’s unbearable in my eyes that somebody can stand on the rostrum, hear Hatikva, and get a gold medal within the title of Israel, after which not be capable of wed right here,” he mentioned, referring to the nation’s nationwide anthem. “It’s a state of affairs that can’t proceed, and we are going to battle for change.”


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