Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash 90
Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau

In anticipation of a massive influx of Ukrainian refugees hoping to gain citizenship, Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau has announced his intention to set up a special Beit Din (Jewish court) to determine the religious status of the prospective immigrants, Israel Hayom reports.

Rabbi Lau sent a letter on Tuesday to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara with a request for clarification on how much authority Israel’s religious court judges have.

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“The war in Ukraine has displaced thousands of people,” Rabbi Lau pointed out in his letter, noting that many of them fled their homes without being able to provide themselves with the necessary documentation to prove their Jewish status.

“To assist in this situation, I plan to establish a special beit din whose judges will use all means to help these people prove their Jewishness,” the rabbi wrote.

“Given the overload of cases the religious courts already deal with, to expedite this process I will choose three retired judges who have a great deal of experience in this area to sit on this [special] court,” he wrote.

At least 30,000 Ukrainian Jews were rescued from combat zones in the past week and a half, according to multiple Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis. Rescues were also made on Shabbat – normally a violation of Torah law, but permissible due to the life-threatening nature of the situation.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.