‘My baby’s defaced birth certificate echoed my family’s Shoah hell’

I now understand how my grandparents felt fleeing the Nazis, says father whose daughter’s document was returned with ‘Israel’ crossed out


The family at Mahaneh Yehudah Market in Jerusalem, 6 October 2023

The father of a Jewish baby girl whose birth certificate came back from the Passport Office ripped and with his own birthplace, Israel, crossed out, has told the JC he “now understands how his grandparents felt fleeing the Nazis”.

The man, whose name is Israel, revealed that two of his grandmothers survived internment at Bergen-Belsen, and pointed out that “Jewish documents in the 1930s were stamped with ‘Jew’.

“I’m not saying we’re living in 1930s Germany, but I now understand how my grandparents felt,” he said, adding that he has considered returning to live in the Jewish state because of rising antisemitism in the UK.

“I’m afraid at one point we will have to go there because it’s getting worse here. I want my kids to have a future. In Israel, even though there is a war, it feels much safer.

“We don’t want our children to suffer anymore discrimination,” said the father, who was holidaying in Jerusalem with his family on October 7.

The Home Office is investigating the defacement of his six-month-old daughter’s birth certificate.

One of Israel’s grandmothers, Bitja Weinberger-Goldsmidt, was saved in a 1944 prisoner exchange between British-held Germans and Dutch Jews. Escaping Bergen-Belsen, Bitja travelled from Nazi Germany to Haifa, where she found freedom. Over 200 Jews were saved on the train to Israel, which became known as Transport 222.

The father of five said that anti-Israel demonstrations in central London were fuelling hatred and wonders if the person who had scribbled out the name of the Jewish state on his daughter’s birth certificate had been on the marches.

“I’m worried that one of the people marching in the street could get a government role”, he said.

Israel thought about staying during the family’s October holiday, but “with a heavy heart” the family returned to their north London home, “we thought it would be safer for our kids”.

“On the fight back, I was worried what we were returning to,” said Israel, “We know every time there is a conflict in the Middle East there is more antisemitism in Europe.”

Israel wears a kippah and has had offensive comments directed towards him. One woman he worked with asked him if he was Jewish after informing him that she “supported Palestine”.

“Whenever someone sees you, you worry about antisemitism. Always.”

For Israel, the document defacement is a tragic development of antisemitism in the UK.

“It is completely warped and it hurts my heart that my daughter is not even six months old and she has already been discriminated on in the worst way.”

“The Home Office is in charge of our safety, and they deal with these documents – someone within their system scribbled out Israel because of their feelings”, the father alleged.

“Whoever did this – their set of values is different to British values – that they could put their hands on the most private of our documents, a new baby’s birth certificate, it’s terrible and scary. What else are they doing to Jewish documents?”

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