He was five years old when he made aliyah from the Ukraine, then part of the former Soviet Union. 22 years later, after being bar mitzvahed and serving in the arm, he tried to open a marriage portfolio in the Rabbinate, giving the dayanim certificates and original documents that prove his Jewish heritage. But this wasn't enough for Israel's haredi-controlled Rabbinate. Even information from Yad Vashem documenting the horrors his family went through during the Holocaust because they were Jews was not good enough to prove his Jewishness.
'Prove your grandma survived Shoah'
Salva Klatzkin made aliyah as a Jew, was bar mitzvahed and served in IDF. None of these were enough to convince Rabbinate, which decided to make him go through trial by fire on way down aisle
Being Jewish can be difficult, but it appears that marrying as a Jew – is even harder. For Salva Klatzkin, a 27-year-old Kfar Saba resident, the race to make it down the aisle in time for his wedding in a month, has been going on for three months.
Preparations are at their height, but a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the ceremony itself because the Chief Rabbinate just doesn't believe Salva is Jewish. Among other requests, the Rabbinate demanded that he seek proof from Yad Vashem.
Klatzkin was five years old when he made aliyah from the Ukraine, then part of the former Soviet Union. In order to open a marriage portfolio in the Rabbinate, he gave the dayanim certificates and original documents that prove his Jewish heritage, but this wasn't enough for the Rabbinate, even information from Yad Vashem documenting the horrors his family went through during the Holocaust because they were Jews, failed to convince the Rabbinate.
"In spite of the difficulty entailed, I obtained letters from certified community rabbis in the Ukraine and Germany that confirmed that my grandmother was Jewish", Klatzkin told Ynet. The dayanim even went so far as to make a phone call to Slava's grandmother in Germany, so that she would confirm that she is indeed of the Jewish faith. "I presented them with additional documentation that detailed my family's background during the Holocaust. The attitude I received was characterized by imperviousness, arbitrariness, and lack of uniformity".
The documents failed to satisfy the dayanim who last week surprised Salva yet again with a new demand: "We hereby require the first names of the Meraniuk family, who saved the applicant's grandmother, in addition, we also request the name of the village where they resided during the war", said the letter.
When the problems kept piling up, Salva turned to help from numerous sources, including MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu).
The Rabbinate did not look favorably on Salva's latest move. Rabbi Shlomo Shapira one of the dayanim handling his case, sent him the following letter: "It has come to my attention through the secretary of the courts, that he was approached by a number of sources, among them an MK, who asked why the applicant had yet to receive the necessary approval. The secretary has clarified, under our orders, that the court expresses its opinion in its decisions, and there is no room for outside intervention. The attempts of any source to influence a dayan in his decision may be considered as a criminal act."
The closer he gets to his big day with Neta Levin, Salva is finding it harder and harder to understand the obstacle course set by the Rabbinate ahead of what is meant to be, the happiest day of his life. "I underwent a Bris as a child, was Bar-Mitzvaed and of course, served in the army. I immigrated to Israel and was received by the city rabbi as a Jew – so all of a sudden I'm not Jewish enough for them? It's absurd".
Every attempt to receive updates on the situation by phone are met with the new automated system which forces the caller to contact the dayanim by faxing them or demanding that they make the request in person at the courts.
Even though a civil wedding would save Salva the headache of dealing with the Rabbinate, Salva has no intention of giving up.
"I can afford it, but it's the principal of the matter, why should a guy like me, a Jew who has served his country, be unable to get something as simple as a religious wedding from the country? Where is the freedom of religion, if so many difficulties are put in the way of someone who wishes to follow the religious dictates?
The Orthodox Court of Law responded by saying that "the courts were supplied with insufficient documentation to determine whether the applicant was Jewish. Even though Mr. Klatzkin failed to provide the requested documents, the court's department of Jewish claims has managed to acquire the documents…we have been told that a positive verdict will be announced in the case this week. The court's administrative office would like to offer its congratulations to the couple".