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Groom nearly misses wedding after being held by British immigration authorities

Yisroel Goldenberg, a Los Angeles-born yeshivah student from Jerusalem, had to spend Shabbat in a detention centre, fly back to Israel and then return a day later to get married.

    Yael Mamren of Gateshead can be grateful that her groom arrived late to their wedding on Monday.

    If British immigration authorities had had their way, he might never have been under the chupah at all.

    Yisroel Goldenberg, a Los Angeles-born yeshivah student from Jerusalem, had to spend Shabbat in a detention centre, fly back to Israel and then return a day later to get married.

    It was only thanks to concerted negotiations and lobbying in high places that he was finally able to celebrate his wedding.

    When Mr Goldenberg first arrived at Heathrow last Thursday, he was denied entry by immigration officers, thanks to a mistakenly filled out visa.

    One of the local Orthodox Jewish activists who later helped him told the JC, “He had filled out a marriage visa – which was a mistake. Someone must have advised him badly because you don’t need one if you are simply coming here to get married and then return shortly afterwards, as he intended to. He could have come here on a tourist visa.”

    Although the authorities wanted to put him on a plane back to Israel the following day, he did not want to take the risk of arriving after the onset of Shabbat. He was also hoping the authorities might change their mind.

    He was sent to Colnbrook detention centre and the Society for the Welfare of Jewish Prisoners arranged for kosher food.

    First thing on Sunday morning he returned to Israel, where efforts were already being mounted on his behalf. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri contacted the Prime Minister’s Office, the British consulate arranged for a visa waiver enabling Mr Goldenberg to make a second attempt to get married in Britain.

    According to the Orthodox activist, it should have been plain sailing when he landed again on Monday. “But there was a bit of a delay, I am not sure why. I heard the name of Brandon Lewis (the Immigration Minister) mentioned, I don’t know if he was involved.”

    A spokesman for the Jewish Community Council in Stamford Hill later confirmed Mr Lewis had helped to get the groom through the red tape.

    Mr Goldenberg was cleared to attend his nuptials, arriving, according to radio station Arutz Sheva, an hour and a half late.

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