July 10, 2011


Undocumented Jews Live in Shadows of U.S. Society: Not the Usual Illegal Alien and Off the Communal Agenda (Nathan Guttman, July 06, 2011, Forward)

Exact numbers of undocumented Jews are not available, and estimates are hard to find, but activists believe there are at least several thousand Jews currently living in the shadows of society. They are Israelis who immigrated to the United States without proper papers — some joining ultra-Orthodox communities, others seeking to pursue better financial opportunities and some who have used Israel as a stepping stone on their way to America from the former Soviet Union, without obtaining the necessary immigration status. And while their numbers are minuscule in comparison with the estimated 11 million mostly from Mexico and Latin America, Israeli undocumented immigrants share a similar fate.

Yamzi Rosen has been living in the United States for nearly nine years. Rosen said she and her family moved to Brooklyn from Israel after she lost her son to a violent murder in her hometown of Netanya. The family hoped the distance would help them overcome the tragedy. The seven family members crammed into a one-bedroom apartment, and began working odd jobs for which papers were not required.

But the American dream turned out to be hard to achieve. A lawyer dealing with their request for obtaining a green card, which grants legal residence in the United States, was arrested for fraud. Meanwhile, a temporary work visa expired, and Rosen was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy.

Since she does not have legal status, Rosen is afraid to drive, and because she lacks health insurance, she relies solely on Jewish charities to help her deal with the large medical bills that accumulated because of her sickness. “They are tzaddikim” she said, using the Hebrew term for “righteous people” when she speaks of the Satmar Bikur Cholim charity organization that walked her through the maze of medical procedures she needed.

The Rosen family is reluctant to request any kind of welfare assistance, fearing that it will hamper their hopes to achieve a green card in the future.

Posted by at July 10, 2011 7:51 AM

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