Happy Anniversary to Our “Three Weddings and a Statement” Couples!

On March 26, 2019, WHC and several other community partners welcomed three Israeli couples to Washington, D.C. to get married. This incredible evening, which brought hundreds of people from across the globe to Washington Hebrew, was made possible thanks to our event sponsor, the Richard & Elizabeth Dubin Family Foundation Heritage Fund. Their generosity, along with contributions from hundreds of individual donors and businesses, made for a one-of-a-kind experience. We checked in with each of the couples to see what they’ve been up to over the past year.

Tsion & Aviad

For Tsion and I, it has been a very meaningful year. After the wedding, we were ecstatic to hear that our wonderful surrogate was pregnant. This whole year was full of joy and anticipation until finally, this December, our son, Arad, was born in Canada. Like marriage, surrogacy is also only legally available for straight people in Israel. We were there for the birth, which was joyful beyond words.

We are now back in Israel, reunited with our family, and doing well. Our legal marriage status made life a lot easier for us and also for Arad. Every contact with bureaucracy was made easier, and we face less doubt by government officials than before. Our marriage was recognized without any issues. It’s very nice to have legal proof of the union between us for the world to see and have no choice but to accept.

The D.C. process has made it very clear to us that Tsion and I were made for each other. Moreover, it has opened up a whole new world of Judaism we never knew: Judaism that is inclusive, loving and just. The ceremonies and prayers we participated in at Washington Hebrew and Adas Israel were the most beautiful and emotional ones ever, for us.

We would wish this wonderful experience upon everyone. This was a truly unique and wonderful experience. We want to send our love to everyone who took time and effort to make this happen. Lastly, we send our love and appreciation to dear Jon and Linda, our D.C. parents, for making a home for us away from home.

Anat & Shmuel

Well, it’s been quite a year! Around 10 days after we got back to Israel, we went on our honeymoon! We got to spend two wonderful and amazing weeks in Japan, visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo — We traveled to many wonderful places, locations, and temples. But best of all, we went to DISNEYLAND! After a few months, we also traveled to Romania to visit Shmuel’s extended family and to show Anat the history of his family in Romania — the homes they lived in, the places they worked at, and the graves of relatives that passed away at the Jewish cemetery.

During the year, Anat earned a Bachelor of Education and even started her M.A., while Shmuel continued work on his graphic design business. In Israel, there are special perks for young married couples that can help them find and finance their first home. As a couple who was not legally married in the eyes of the government, we were not eligible to apply. Since tying the knot legally, we have been able to apply and hopefully soon, we’ll be moving to our dream home! Luckily for us, once we had the proper paperwork and had the all-mighty power of bureaucracy, recognizing our marriage was a breeze. Unfortunately, we are well aware that there are still many couples who did not get the amazing opportunity that we got and to this day, are not recognized by the government.

The response to our situation has been incredible. It’s amazing to see how many people are unaware that it can be so difficult to get married legally in Israel and that we had to go through all of this just to get recognized by the government. We learned that even when things are crazy and we need to rush from place to place, whether it be suit shopping, wedding dress salons or lavish events, our relationship is strong, and as long as we have one another, we’ll be just fine.

Finding out that there are people in this world that even without knowing you at all, will support and love you even if your own country will not support you, is an amazing feeling and an incredible lesson that we will cherish and take with us for the rest of our lives.

We just want to say, again, from the bottom of our hearts — Thank you to everybody in your amazing community. And of course, a HUGE thank you to our amazing hosts, Ellen and Bob, who were so generous, not only in opening up their home to us, but were generous with their time and in making us feel right at home, even though we were miles away from it.

Ilia & Sahar

First of all, we want to say thank you again personally for the amazing experience. You made something incredible even better! We loved the experience and would easily recommend (already did) to people who feel the same way as us about the Rabbinate.

The process of our marriage has taught us that we always have a choice of how to live our lives, and we don’t have to give up on our values. The main difficulty with us being married outside of the Rabbinate was with our families’ older generation. On the other side, people that have heard the story and reasons behind our decisions were extremely positive and supportive. Our marriage registration went smoothly, and we didn’t have any difficulties from Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of the Interior). As a result, the main difference for us as an officially married couple is on the bureaucracy level with the state, as we found it easier and more comfortable dealing with authorities than before.

Quick update about us — Following Sahar’s M.A studies, we moved to a house in a small town of Kiryat Tiv’on, in the north of Israel (15 minutes from Haifa) with a big backyard where we grow different fruits and vegetables. We also adopted a cute puppy, named Lumi (“snow” in Finnish). She is amazing: well trained, well behaved and full of energy!

Hope to see you soon in Israel!