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Anat and Shmuel

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Anat, 25, is a special education teacher from Kiryat Yam, and Shmuel, 26, is an assistant manager at a computer and technology store in Haifa. Anat and Shmuel met online and have been together for nine years.

Shmuel is the child of a deaf couple originally from Romania. His father was born and raised Jewish, and his mother was Christian, but she converted before they married in Romania. After they had been married for several years, the couple made aliyah and were both given Israeli citizenship. When Shmuel’s mother passed away, he approached the Hevra Kadisha to organize her funeral. It was then that he learned that the State of Israel and the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate did not recognize his mother’s conversion, because, in the Rabbinate’s interpretation of Jewish law, people who are hearing-impaired cannot convert. Israel’s Ministry of the Interior defined Shmuel’s mother as “without religion.”

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Even more shocking, this meant that Shmuel – who was born and raised in Israel, had a circumcision as a baby, became a bar mitzvah, and served in the army ­– was also classified as “without religion.” For Shmuel and Anat to legally marry, Shmuel would have to convert.

Shmuel has decided to undergo a Reform conversion, a movement where both he and Anat feel greater acceptance, and they will have a Reform wedding outside of the auspices of the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.