Ruth the Moabite’s Request for Permanent Status Rejected!

Some great Shavuot satire from the Israel Religious Action Center. (h/t Elaine Waxman)

This week we celebrate Shavuot, the holiday on which we read the Book of Ruth. The following is a simulated correspondence between IRAC and the Ministry of Interior if the Biblical Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David and Judaism’s first convert, were to be seeking legal status in Israel today. Chag Sameach!

Mr. Eli Yishai*
Minister of Interior
Kaplan 2

Dear Sir,

Re: Ruth the Moabite – Request to Obtain Permanent Status in Israel

Our client, Ruth the Moabite, is the non-Jewish widow of a Jewish husband, Chilion son of Elimelech. Her husband passed away outside of Israel, in Moab, and is buried there. My client entered Israel legally with her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, who was also widowed while abroad.

The following is a declaration of our client, Ruth the Moabite, regarding her strong link to the Jewish people: “Where you lodge, I shall lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where you die will I die, and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:16-17).

In addition, you may find attached the appeal of Mr. Boaz son of Salmah, an Israeli citizen, who participates in this request for Ruth the Moabite’s permanent status in Israel with his intention to marry my client.

I ask that you grant our client status in Israel by virtue of her prior marriage to a Jewish man.

With respect,

Anat Hoffman, Executive Director
The Israel Religious Action Center
The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism

*Yishai (Jesse)—Biblical name of the father of King David and grandson of Ruth the Moabite.

Anat Hoffman
The Israel Religious Action Center

Dear Ms. Hoffman,

Re: Ruth the Moabite

Your request was received by our offices and has been reviewed by our staff at the Ministry of Interior. The request is rejected due to the absence of essential documents needed for the Ministry’s procedures regarding these matters:

The Moabite woman is required to present a marriage certificate when requesting verification, as the marriage was performed abroad.

A death certificate of the deceased Jew signed by a recognized Chevra Kadisha must be presented.

Your client’s declaration of her link to Judaism is not acceptable as a conversion. In the absence of a conversion certificate, she is registered as a Moabite, not a Jew.

In reference to your client’s declaration: “Where you die will I die, and there will I be buried.” This statement cannot be used to seek approval from the Burial Council.

Your client is attempting any and all potential methods to legitimize her being in Israel, first through her claim that she is a widow to a Jewish husband and now through her new claim that she is the partner of Boaz son of Salmah.

In light of the above, we ask that the Moabite woman exit from Israel within 30 days from the receipt of your initial request in order to arrange her documents from abroad. As such, she can present herself at the Israeli Embassy in Moab to submit all of the required documents that meet the specified criteria for obtaining residency status in Israel.

The position of the Minister is that one must regret the situation in which a respected Jewish citizen of such high status, such as Boaz son of Salmah, requests to marry a non-Jewish woman. Do we lack proper women here in Israel? It is necessary and advisable to take into account the status of the expected children from such a union.

With respect,

Dr. Shuki Amrani
Interior Ministry

13 thoughts on “Ruth the Moabite’s Request for Permanent Status Rejected!

  1. Ismail

    the story brought a smile to my face and bad memories too. I was denied the right of residence in Jerusalem after going to Switzerland for my university education. My case reached the supreme court and my lawyer told me that my case was number seventy two. He almost won one case.

    The law states if your mother is not Jewish and you leave Israel for six months you are not allowed to regain your home even if my family tree extends for hundreds of years back. I was born and raised in Jerusalem myself until I was nineteen.

    So much for the only democracy in the Middle East.

  2. Robert Lax

    I hink it was the great British author, novelist and playwright who wrote;

    Quote: THE LAW IS AN ASS!

  3. Stewart Mills - Sydney

    What a great letter.

    Ruth’s story also raises with me the question why does the mainstream Jewish teaching identify a Jew as someone with a Jewish mother. It seems ludicrous to have such a rule, especially in the light of great figures like Ruth and Moses’ wife to name a few who were not conventionally Jewish.

    On an unrelated note Brant have you seen the following music clip on Palestine. Cold Play had it on their facebook site and have since removed it.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


      Yes, I had seen the video and thought it was pretty great. Was also impressed at Coldplay’s endorsement of it even if they did have to pull the video from their website after the wrath of the gods descended upon them.

      Did you see Glenn Beck’s hilarious response to the OneWorld video? It’s comedy gold:

    2. Richard Kahn

      The letter was really well done, and highlights an incredibly unfortunate and depressing problem for Israel.

      The mainstream determinant of Jewish identity switched from patrilineal (as it clearly is in the Bible) to matrilineal at some point in history. What I’ve always heard is that this was because of the prevalence of uncertainty regarding who the father was (possibly because of rape perpetrated by foreign soldiers) whereas it is always clear who the mother is.

  4. Shirley Gould

    When my grandson and his fiancee wanted to be married in Israel, permission was denied because his parents were married by a rabbi ordained by the Reform movement in the U.S. Fiancee was okay because her parents were both Sabra. We had to find proof that my husband and I, parents of the groom’s mother, were actually married (in 1940!) by an Orthodox rabbi, long deceased. The happy couple now live in Toronto.

  5. Stewart Mills - Sydney

    Hi Brant,

    Beck’s response is disturbing. His talk of evil and propaganda for anyone supportive of Palestinian self-determination. He totally fails to understand the distinction between the maintenance of Israel within the 1967 borders (or some mutually agreed variation) and allowing the secession of Palestine within the West Bank and Gaza, the sharing of Jerusalem and for a just settlement for the refugees. At one level we can write him off as a looney commentator.

    But, this comes in the context of a US Congress that has gone in overdrive support of Israel. What is with the universal standing ovation for Netanyahu’s statement that Israel was “not foreign occupiers in Judea and Samaria”? Do they not know that they are passing the death sentence to further generations of Israelis and Palestinians by not calling for a just and speedy resolution.

    Sadly, this conflict is going nowhere to worse fast.

  6. jack bender

    very sad indeed……..hey nobody said it would be easy…strife and turmoil for 4000 years….i guess we could have been icelanders

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author

      Ah yes, the 4,000 year old conflict thing.

      Actually, Jack, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is 60 to 100 years-old, tops. The myth that the conflict has been going on “for thousands of years” is really just a canard proclaimed by those who seek to accommodate an unjust status quo. (After all, why deal seriously with the conflict if it’s been raging for centuries, right?)

  7. jack bender

    rabbi….your right,if you were to limit the problem to the exact time in history when the problem occurs….my point was that the jews have been fighting for their very existance over the last 4000 years,,and indeed with overwhelming forces arrayed against them… in the very same place..and in the rest of the world,for that matter….as far as the unjust status quo,as you put it,and how to deal with it…that is truly difficult..i cant even begin to think of a way to solve the puzzle,that would lead to the peace that we all want


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