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Both immigrated to Israel from their native Russia, where they reunited five years ago. But like so many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, under Jewish religious law (Halakha), Ms. Komkov was not considered technically Jewish. Stalin ripped away her Jewish roots when her great-grandmother, born a Jew, was given away to a Christian family to save her life. Her name was changed, and there was no documentation for her great-granddaughter to later prove her Jewishness. After Ms. Komkov’s 2004 immigration to Israel with her parents, she converted — but within the Reform movement, which is not recognized by the rabbinate. So it was impossible for her to marry in the Jewish state. The rabbinate’s power is also unacceptable to Israelis like Gali Geberovich and Alon Sela, whose love story is like something out of a Leon Uris novel. The pair met on a kibbutz in 2010, after their mandatory army service. He milked cows.

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