Monday, January 14, 2008


His father was Jewish. His adoptive family is Catholic. Can he make aliya? by RUTH EGLASH (JPost)
A US citizen of Jewish descent, who was adopted as a baby by a devout Catholic family with some anti-Semitic leanings, is posing a tough challenge to the Law of Return.

Two years ago, Timothy Nicholas Steger, 37, discovered that his biological father, Robert J. Kates, was a Jew who had been a member of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York.

But attempting to make aliya last August, Steger was turned down by the Interior Ministry, which deemed that the connection with his biological parents had been severed as a result of the adoption and that he was therefore not eligible for citizenship.

Citing the Law of Return, which states anyone with at least one Jewish parent or grandparent is entitled to immigrate, Steger appealed the decision four months ago, and he has been waiting for an answer ever since....

Steger's connection to Israel and the Jewish people is not a logical conclusion of his upbringing in a devout Catholic and often openly bigoted family.

"Half of my family had overt neo-Nazi leanings and my [adoptive] parents never told me that I had a Jewish father, even though they must have known," said Steger; his adoptive sister was an outright neo-Nazi.

Steger became an active member of the anti-neo-Nazi movement in Los Angeles during the late 1980s and the 1990s.

"I can't explain why I chose that path, but inside I always hated any form of racism," said Steger, who organized concerts to combat the growing skinhead movement and worked closely with the Anti-Defamation League during that time.

Back then, Steger started dating a Jewish woman and the relationship became serious.

It was through that relationship that he began learning about Judaism and Israel, making his first trip to Israel in 2000.

"It always felt like home for me here," said Steger.

Although he has yet to establish contact with his father, Steger did appeal to his father's former rabbi, Harry S. Rosenfeld, who vouched for Steger's Jewish paternal lineage.

"I am Jewish," said Steger, who has had little contact with his adoptive family since coming here. "And this [bureaucractic battle] is the greatest tragedy that could befall a Jew. I am being rejected from the land that is promised to me as a sanctuary from those who would persecute me."

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