Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis undergo coronavirus testing at Ben-Gurion Airport

Ultra-Orthodox Americans pose as yeshiva students to enter Israel for wedding

After failing to obtain student visas at consulate in New York, group of largely middle-aged men and women successfully use ploy to gain entry via Belgium; Israel investigating incident, says three yeshivas involved no longer allowed to sponsor visa applications

Kobi Nachshoni |
Published: 06.23.21, 13:24
Dozens of Haredi Jews from the United States this week gained entry Israel by claiming to be yeshiva students after their request to visit the country for a wedding was denied.
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  • The group, which was mostly made up of older Haredi men and women from New York and not young students, were denied entry as current restrictions state that only close family members can be allowed into Israel for a wedding.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    בדיקת קורונה לנכנסים לארץ
    בדיקת קורונה לנכנסים לארץ
    Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis undergo coronavirus testing at Ben-Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Reuters)
    In order to get around the ban, the group several weeks ago attempted to obtain student visas through Zvi Gluck, a prominent ultra-Orthodox community leader in New York. Gluck went to the Israeli consulate in the city and filed the paperwork in the group's name.
    But Gluck soon became suspicious as he noticed discrepancies in the forms. While three educational institutions in Israel vouched that the group members were indeed students traveling to the country for year-long study programs, documentation showed that they were all planning to fly back to the U.S. soon after their arrival.
    In addition, most of the applicants were women or men in their 40s and 50s.
    Unable to explain this discrepancy, Gluck alerted the consulate, which then rejected their applications.
    Unable to secure the permits in New York, the group then successfully applied via the Israeli embassy in Brussels with the same claim that they were yeshiva students.
    The group traveled to Israel for the wedding, which took place in Kfar Saba on Monday, and were expected to fly back to the U.S. in the coming days.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    Illustrative: A Haredi wedding in Israel
    Illustrative: A Haredi wedding in Israel
    Illustrative: A Haredi wedding in Israel
    (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
    The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said it was familiar with the affair and that it was "investigating the circumstances of the incident together with the Population and Immigration Authority."
    Israel also said it will no longer be processing student visa requests from the three Israeli yeshiva institutions involved in the fraudulent visa applications.
    It is suspected that the father of the groom is a major donor to the three institutions, and that they were willing to secure the visas in return for financial contributions.
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