As I stand in my kitchen in Yerushalyim preparing for Shabbat and Tisha B’Av, my mind continues to digest the experiences of last week’s Shorashim Mission to Ukraine.
Last Friday we were standing amongst the ruins of the synagogue of the shtetl of Sharograd, whilst a lone fiddler played background melodies, and our guide recounted the highs and the horrific lows of yet another Jewish community.
As we turned our backs to leave the synagogue, the melodies lingered on – a metaphor for the message that we carry with us into this coming weekend of remembrance and resolve.
your memories of the Soviet Jewry movement, and to the 1,100,000 people who we brought to live in Israel 1989-2015
that 800,000 are registered as Jews under the Law of Return (a family member of a Jew), but are still required to provide evidence as to their Halachic status ( the son or daughter of a Jewish mother, or a convert to Judaism), without which they cannot marry as Jews under Israeli law.
….that they live their lives as Israelis
….they proudly and willingly serve in our army,
…..yet they are unable to fully integrate into Jewish society without validation of their Jewish status.
…..that there is a successful movement to fix this, which is gaining momentum right now.
Tzohar’s Shorashim Forensic Investigation Unit
RESEARCHES their family tree
RETRIEVES documentation and data from their place of origin,
and builds a case for authentication of Jewishness
RETURNS their Jewish identity by validating their status as Jews with the Rabbinical court.
1,000’s of Israelis are coming to Shorashim to undertake their family search;
an effective and positive experience, which gifts them their comprehensive family history.
• 90% success rate!
• Over 15,000 cases so far successfully dealt with by Shorashim.
• Over 70,000 people affected and able to have a Jewish wedding.
The Israeli Government recognizes the importance of this demographic crisis and is match funding Shorashim’s work, case by case.
But that is not enough.
We need to support this Shorashim movement before the generation of grandparents dies out, and with them their family information- names, places, stories.
And then all that is left is a lingering memory in an empty, abandoned synagogue, somewhere far away….