Help Yosef Kibita Become an Israeli

Help Yosef Kibita Become an Israeli

425 have signed. Let’s get to 500!

Why this petition matters

Started by Michael Chernick

Dear (consul-general),

We, the undersigned, bring to your attention the Ministry of Interior’s rejection of the Aliyah application of Yosef Kibita, a member of the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda, challenging the validity of his three conversions, all conducted under the auspices of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative/Masorti Movement. The Ministry’s refusal to recognize the conversions undergone by the Abayudaya, who, after a century of living as a Jewish community, chose to formally join the Jewish People, precludes the right of any of its 2,000 members from making Aliyah, from participating in Taglit-Birthright or Masa programs, and from receiving a visa to study at a Jewish institution of higher learning.

The many Jews who read Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, the English-language edition of Haaretz, Forward, the Jewish Week and local Anglo-Jewish newspapers and bulletins are aware of this situation. As a result, there is growing alarm among Jews in every sector of the North American Jewish community about the Ministry’s rejection of these conversions and the conversions of Jews in other African countries and in Latin America who converted with Conservative and Reform rabbinical batei din.

This situation does not affect only the non-Orthodox movements. 400 members of the Abayudaya community converted with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Orthodox chief rabbi of Efrat, who is a revered figure among Israeli and American Modern Orthodox Jews.

The conversion of Jared Armstrong, a young African-American, has also been rejected. His conversion was conducted by an American Conservative rabbi following a long and intensive study program conducted via Internet technology, which the Ministry declared an unacceptable means of preparing a candidate for conversion. Why can Zoom or Skype be a modern vehicle for every variety of education and not education for conversion?

This pattern of rejection is disturbing and insulting. It indicates a conscious disregard of provisions of the Law of Return and of Israel’s Supreme Court decisions validating conversions performed by recognized Jewish denominations inside and outside Israel for purposes of Aliyah. It rejects the authority of ordained rabbis in communities throughout the world. As the American Jewish community is awakening to the diversity of American Jewry, illustrated by the significant numbers of Jews of Color who are active members of the Jewish community, the rejection of people of color as Aliyah candidates unhappily makes it difficult for American Jews who strongly support Israel to explain this phenomenon to detractors and to some members of our own community.

We hope that these decisions against Aliyah applicants will be reversed, the doors of Israel will open wide to Jews of Choice, and the Israel-Diaspora relationship will be strengthened.

We ask that you deliver this message through the Foreign Ministry to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, to the Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai, and to the governing coalition. The matter is particularly urgent, as the appeal of Yosef Kibita will be heard in the Israeli courts on March 21, 2022. While Ministers and MK’s are appropriately barred from interfering in judicial matters, the Interior Ministry could review the Kibita case before the court hearing, thereby rendering it unnecessary.


425 have signed. Let’s get to 500!