Monday, July 09, 2007

The Yemenite who came into the cold

This must qualify as one of the odder stories about Jewish refugees: the Yemenite Jew who ended up in Alaska. The Anchorage Daily News reports:

He was born in Yemen and raised in one of the few Jewish families remaining in the Arab country, where religious persecution has driven almost all of the nation's 50,000 Jews to Israel.

He is not considered Yemeni, because the country doesn't recognize Jews as citizens. And although as a Jew he could claim to be Israeli, he has never lived in Israel.

"I am not a citizen of Yemen. I am not a citizen of Israel. I am not a citizen of anywhere," he explains.

Ah, but not for long.

A refugee since October 2003, Rebnechtine is counting the months and days till his five-year anniversary in the United States, a milestone he'll celebrate by applying for citizenship.

Until then, he's more than content to consider himself an Alaskan -- something other Alaskans should welcome.

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