JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a shocking story of bureaucratic heartlessness, a Russian Ger Tzedek who had converted in Russia in the Beis Din of Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, which is recognized by Israel’s chief rabbinate, took his own life after Israeli government authorities refused to accept the geirus.
Many immigrants from the former USSR suffer bureaucratic issues in associating with government ministries, including difficulties obtaining ID, a passport and HMO membership. However Geirim can have more difficulties than regular immigrants, as their Geirus must be checked and rechecked by the relevant authorities.
The current Ger, known as Gavriel Ben Avraham (Koliochevski), decided to convert in Russia and contacted the Moscow Jewish community, which was then headed by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. Together with Rabbi Moshe Lebel, the Rosh Yeshiva of the local yeshiva, it was decided after a certain point that he could convert. The conversions of Rabbi Goldschmidt are unanimously recognized in Israeli rabbinical courts.
After the war between Russia and Ukraine began, Gavriel decided to immigrate to Israel, but despite having all the relevant documents to obtain citizenship, he was met with a bureaucratic brick wall. The system decided not to recognize his conversion and he suffered continuous delays in the Interior Ministry.
In recent months, after realizing that he could not deal alone with the Israeli bureaucracy, he became deeply depressed. He was 31, with no family and few friends, and had taken the step of converting to be part of the Jewish people, which then apparently turned its back on him.
One of his friends said that “During the last few weeks, when he saw that nothing was moving, he realized that he wasn’t going to get citizenship soon and this prevented him from working, earning a livelihood, marrying, driving and other basic acts, so he was very depressed. Last Shabbat apparently he got fed up and did something unfortunate which caused his death. We blame the Immigration Authority for not finding a solution for his problems.”
Police are still investigating whether he died at his own hands or whether there were other causes of death involved.
The immigration authorities rejected the claims by friends of Gavriel, stating that “the details provided are partial and imprecise. On 22.7.22 he came to Israel and was summoned three times to the ministry but once he arrived without documents, once he came to another place and the third time he didn’t show up.
“We didn’t deal with his requests as he didn’t submit anything. The whole procedure for arriving as a tourist and submitting documentation is usually fast and humane. It is hard for us to respond to claims if he didn’t submit the request and come to the appointments.”
The friends are unconvinced and state that “It’s a shame we reached this stage that a person dies of a broken heart. Where is the commandmant of loving Geirim?”