Zionism and Israel - Encyclopedic
Hok Hashvut (Law of Return)
'Hok Hashvut - (Hebrew) Israel Law of Return (1950) grants right of
immigration to Israel and automatic citizenship to every Jew, defined as someone who has at least one Jewish grandparent
or who has converted to Judaism. This law does not bar non-Jews from entering Israel, nor is it based on a strict
religious criterion. Halachic religious law stipulates that only sons of Jewish mothers are Jews. Non-Jews may immigrate
to Israel and become citizens at the discretion of the Ministry of the Interior.
The Law of Return has been criticized as "racist" and unique. However, other countries have
such laws, including Armenia, Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Greece and Japan. For commentary see
Japan have the right to exist as a Japanese state?
The text of the law and amendments:
The Law of Return 5710 (1950)*
Right of aliyah** 1. Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh**.
Oleh's visa 2. (a) Aliyah shall be by oleh's visa.
(b) An oleh's visa shall be granted to every Jew who has expressed his desire to settle in Israel, unless the Minister
of Immigration is satisfied that the applicant
(1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or
(2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.
Oleh's certificate 3. (a) A Jew who has come to Israel and subsequent to his arrival has expressed his desire to settle
in Israel may, while still in Israel, receive an oleh's certificate.
(b) The restrictions specified in section 2(b) shall apply also to the grant of an oleh's certificate, but a person
shall not be regarded as endangering public health on account of an illness contracted after his arrival in Israel.
Residents and persons born in this country 4. Every Jew who has immigrated into this country before the coming into
force of this Law, and every Jew who was born in this country, whether before or after the coming into force of this
Law, shall be deemed to be a person who has come to this country as an oleh under this Law.
Implementation and regulations 5. The Minister of Immigration is charged with the implementation of this Law and may
make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation and also as to the grant of oleh's visas and oleh's
certificates to minors up to the age of 18 years.
Minister of Immigration
Acting President of the State
Chairman of the Knesset
* Passed by the Knesset on the 20th Tammuz, 5710 (5th July, 1950) and published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 51 of the 21st
Tammuz, 5710 (5th July. 1950), p. 159; the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok No. 48 of the
12th Tammuz, 5710 (27th June, 1950), p. 189.
** Translator's Note: Aliyah means immigration of Jews, and oleh (plural: olim) means a Jew immigrating, into Israel.
Law of Return (Amendment 5714-1954)*
section 2(b) 1. In section 2 (b) of the Law of Return, 5710-1950** -
(1) the full stop at the end of paragraph (2) shall be replaced by a semi-colon, and the word "or" shall be inserted
(2) the following paragraph shall be inserted after paragraph (2):
"(3) is a person with a criminal past, likely to endanger public welfare.".
Amendment of sections
2 and 5 2. In sections 2 and 5 of the Law, the words "the Minister of Immigration" shall be replaced by the words "the
Minister of the Interior".
Minister of Health
Acting Minister of the Interior
President of the State
* Passed by the Knesset on the 24th Av, 5714 (23rd August, 1954) and published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 163 of the 3rd
Elul, 5714 (1st September, 1954) p. 174; the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok No. 192 of
5714, p. 88.
** Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 51 of 5710, p. 159, LSI vol. IV, 114.
Law of Return (Amendment No. 2) 5730-1970*
Addition of sections 4A
and 4B 1. In the Law of Return, 5710-1950**, the following sections shall be inserted after section 4:
"Rights of members of family
4A. (a) The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952***, as well as
the rights of an oleh under any other enactment, are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a
Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and
has voluntarily changed his religion.
(b) It shall be immaterial whether or not a Jew by whose right a right under subsection (a) is claimed is still alive
and whether or not he has immigrated to Israel.
(c) The restrictions and conditions prescribed in respect of a Jew or an oleh by or under this Law or by the enactments
referred to in subsection (a) shall also apply to a person who claims a right under subsection (a).
4B. For the purposes of this Law, "Jew" means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to
Judaism and who is not a member of another religion."
Amendment of section 5 2. In section 5 of the Law of Return, 5710-1950, the following shall be added at the end:
"Regulations for the purposes of sections 4A and 4B require the approval of the Constitution, Legislation and Juridical
Committee of the Knesset.".
Amendment of the Population Registry Law, 5725-1965 3. In the Population Registry Law, 5725-1965****, the following
section shall be inserted after section 3:
"Power of registration and definition
3A. (a) A person shall not be registered as a Jew by ethnic affiliation or religion if a notification under this Law or
another entry in the Registry or a public document indicates that he is not a Jew, so long as the said notification,
entry or document has not been controverted to the satisfaction of the Chief Registration Officer or so long as
declaratory judgment of a competent court or tribunal has not otherwise determined.
(b) For the purposes of this Law and of any registration or document thereunder, "Jew" has the same meaning as in
section 4B of the Law of Return, 5710-1950.
(c) This section shall not derogate from a registration effected before its coming into force.".
Acting Minister of the Interior
SHNEUR ZALMAN SHAZAR
President of the State
* Passed by the Knesset on 2nd Adar Bet, 5730 (10th March, 1970) and published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 586 of the 11th
Adar Bet, 5730 (19th March, 1970), p. 34; the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok No. 866 of
5730, p. 36.
** Sefer Ha-Chukkim of 5710 p. 159 - LSI vol. IV, p. 114; Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 5714, p. 174 - LSI vol. VIII, p. 144.
*** Sefer Ha-Chukkim of 5712, p. 146 ; LSI vol. VI, p. 50.
**** Sefer Ha-Chukkim of 5725, p. 270 ; LSI vol. XIX, p. 288
Synonyms and alternate spellings: Law of Return, Chok Hasshvut
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a guttural sound
made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that
have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch,
especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch"
in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against
the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has
a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon
and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by
the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic
ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was
formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there
is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and
Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of
Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding
words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for
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