Fifteen years ago in Turin, Italy, Rachel - aka Emanuela - began the spiritual odyssey that eventually led to her passionate embrace of Orthodox Judaism.
Today, at 35, Rachel is two months pregnant, married to a kashrut supervisor and living in the Jerusalem area.
But her personal journey, which has taken a somewhat unpleasant turn, is still not over.
Although Rome's Orthodox Rabbinical Court declared Rachel Jewish on July 11, 2006; although the Chief Rabbinate of Israel recognized Rachel's conversion; and although Rachel was joined in wedlock to her devout husband by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel six months ago, the Interior Ministry refuses to recognize Rachel as a Jew.
Thanks to a High Court injunction, she is allowed to remain in Israel with her husband until the court rules on her case. Until that happens, however, her citizenship status is in limbo.
She has no rights to any state services such as national insurance or health care, and if she leaves the country - to visit her family in Italy, for instance - she will not be allowed to return.
"My situation is worse than non-Jews who marry an Israeli," Rachel said on Thursday in a telephone interview. "At least they have rights."
Rachel is being helped by ITIM, a nonprofit organization that helps the perplexed navigate Israel's religion-related bureaucracies. [...]