I told this story to a friend (Carol) and she immediately demanded that I put it in a blog.
This is a slow time of the year for everything so I will.
I had arrived in Israel in 1959 with a girl friend from college after travelling through Europe. We spent a few months on a kibbutz, a while in Haifa and settled in Ramat Aviv, part of Tel Aviv where we both got work. I ran the production planning department at Israel’s largest aircraft repair and construction company.
We decided to get married. Marriage then as now was governed by the Orthodox. The whole process took six months because the rabbi’s wanted proof that I was Jewish. They never doubted my future wife because she wore black clothes with a long skirt, long sleeves and a head scarf. (The real issue here comes at the end of the story.) They couldn’t ask her any questions because women were not assumed to be religiously trained.
The rabbis wouldn’t speak Hebrew. Only Russian, Polish, Yiddish and a little German. I knew a tiny amount of Russian and French. So all conversations were slow, awkward and confusing.
The building we went to was very old and Arab. Long light green halls, blue doors and benches outside every office with many old people and rabbis sitting around. Fluorescent bulbs.
We only went every month because I had trouble getting off work. And it was a long bus ride.
For six months my father sent letters that I had been a Jew from birth and my mother was a Jewess. My father was a rabbi, but Reform, so he wasn’t in their book of American rabbis. He sent letters in Hebrew and convened a minion (10 Jews) to confirm my Jewishness. The only thing that worked was a final letter from several listed orthodox rabbi friends of his. Saying I was a Jew.
So the two of us were finally asked to sit down and fill out the necessary papers.
To be continued.