The Israeli Knesset passed the Law of Return on this date in 1950. It guaranteed immediate citizenship to all halakhically recognized Jews who emigrate to Israel. The law was amended in 1970 to include “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.” People converted to Judaism by non-Orthodox rabbis are also eligible for citizenship under the Law (the Israeli Supreme Court affirmed this by a 7-4 vote in 2005), although such conversions must take place outside the country, since non-Orthodox rabbis are not recognized as rabbis in Israel. (Conversions by secular humanistic rabbis are not considered legitimate under the Law of Return.) Fugitives from justice, and Jews who have converted to other faiths, can be excluded. As for non-Jews, they can become Israeli citizens through the naturalization process or by marrying an Israeli citizen.
“From Meyer Lansky in the 1960s, to the Maryland killer, Samuel Sheinbein, in 1999, Israeli courts have rightly not allowed criminals to mock the Law of Return. They have been expelled and extradited to face charges. . . . Jews should welcome this news. A people bound together by The Law should celebrate it.” —Jonathan Wolfman