The Israeli Rabbinate is increasingly using DNA testing to help decide the Jewishness of individuals seeking to marry. In almost all cases, this involved immigrants from the former Soviet Union or their offspring.
About half a dozen complaints against the practice were filed over the past year with the ITIM organization, which helps immigrants and converts navigate religious bureaucracy.
Officially, the Rabbinate only uses DNA results to buttress evidence of a person’s ancestry, but never relies on it exclusively.
Yet not everyone is happy with this. Rabbonim of Yerushalayim’s Eretz Chemdah Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies DNA have been pushing for the acceptance of testing of mitochondrial DNA that is inherited exclusively from a person’s mother as conclusive proof of a people’s Jewish status if they lack alternative proof, such as Soviet-era documentation and witnesses.