Since yesterday’s shocking announcement that unmarried students are barred from returning to Israel, the phones in Chaim V’Chessed have not stopped ringing: from irate yeshiva and seminary heads whose programs were due to restart to parents who had already purchased tickets for their children, and many more.
Chaim V’Chessed was quoted on newsites across the globe. Our CEO, Rabbi Paysach Freedman, was interviewed on Radio Kol B’Rama about this ongoing saga.
In this post, we will attempt to make some sense out of the current situation. Bear in mind that this is a developing issue, and we are in uncharted territory.
“I have a flight tonight- should I fly?“
Within moments of our publication of the ban, we were called by numerous passengers with tickets for flights on Wednesday or Thursday. They had already received entry permits to Israel. Each wanted to know if they would be able to board their flight, and subsequently enter Israel.
Our answer was: we simply don’t know. In fact, numerous students who contacted us were actually allowed to board their Wednesday flights at Newark and JFK airports, and were allowed entry upon landing in Tel Aviv. Still, even though these students managed to enter Israel, we assume that, in the very near future, airlines will be advised not to allow other single students to fly, even if they hold entry permits. Will this apply to passengers trying to fly on Thursday night? Only time will tell!
Might Married Students & Families be barred, as well?
Minister Deri’s directive plainly states that married students and their families will continue to receive permission to enter Israel. However, numerous callers have asked us if this too, may be cancelled, just as permission for single students was. These callers have plans to return to Israel in the coming weeks, and they’ve asked: Should we jump on a plane tonight before Israel closes its borders completely?
We share these concerns. The sheer abruptness of yesterday’s announcement is reason for concern. Single students are at risk of losing the value of one ticket; families would lose much more if their trips are cancelled by a new government edict.
Here, too, we are unsure how to respond. We are in constant contact with Interior Ministry officials, but they’ve offered no prognosis for future steps.
“How can they do this? We’ve already purchased tickets!”
Parents, students and educators have all called Chaim V’Chessed, fuming. We followed the rules, we obtained entry permits – and then purchased tickets! How can they arbitrarily bar us from entering- causing us to lose money?
We share your frustration. We are stunned by the summary nature of this decision, which came with no warning, and with no grace period. We have even been contacted by institutions seeking to sue the Interior Ministry over losses incurred due to this decision.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO ISSUE UPDATES AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE.