Grapevine: A family celebration

The Habimah Theater celebrates 15 years and families celebrate weddings and barmitzvah's.

Habimah Theater 521 (photo credit: Itsik Marom)
Habimah Theater 521
(photo credit: Itsik Marom)
■ AMONG THE star attractions at the Habimah Theater reception for the 15th-anniversary celebrations of the New Family organization – which lawyer Irit Rosenblum founded to find solutions to unconventional relationships – was Jerusalem gay couple Dan Goldberg and Arnon Angel.
The two men, who are familiar to anyone who patronizes the Tmol Shilshom restaurant in the heart of the capital, made international headlines just under three years ago when they were stranded for more than two months in Mumbai with their twins Itai and Liron. Goldberg had fathered the twins, whom an Indian surrogate mother had carried to term, but he could not bring the twins into Israel without undergoing a paternity test, and the Family Court refused to authorize the test, saying it was outside its jurisdiction. Rosenblum got involved, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Interior Minister Eli Yishai to allow Goldberg to bring his twins to Israel. The Knesset also discussed the matter, with many MKs supporting Goldberg’s plea.
Eventually Family Court Judge Philip Marcus, who had initially refused to grant the paternity test, approved it after the Jerusalem District Court authorized him to do so, and after he received a statement from the State Attorney’s Office that there was no opposition to the test.
Goldberg and Angel were also seen later in the evening with their laughing twins in a short video presentation of happy families who would not have been able to enjoy the rights of a mainstream family without Rosenblum’s intervention. While Rosenblum respects tradition, she says that solutions must be found for couples who are halachically forbidden to marry. She has found satisfactory solutions for couples in which one partner is not Jewish, same-sex couples, Kohanim marrying divorcees, and people with the status of mamzerim in Jewish law. None of the people in these categories should be denied the right to create a family, she said.
The audience, which included a large representation of the LGBT community, watched a performance of Yochi Brandeis’s play Because You Chose Us, which is about the reactions of individual members of a religiously observant family when they discover after their particularly pious mother’s death that she wasn’t Jewish. To add relevance to the New Family anniversary celebrations, one of her three children is gay.
■ IT’S CUSTOMARY in most synagogues for those sitting in the women’s gallery to throw candies at a bar mitzva boy when he finishes reading his Torah portion, or at a bridegroom who has been called to the Torah ahead of his wedding – or, in the case of Sephardi and North African bridegrooms, on the first Shabbat after the wedding. But when Israel Slomianski completed his Torah portion at the Hazvi Yisrael Synagogue in Talbiyeh last Saturday, both men and boys made a rush for all the candies that had flown from the women’s gallery, and hurled them back with amazing skill.
Esther and Max Slomianski and their family recently made aliya from San Diego. At the kiddush they hosted after the service, one of the congregants made it his business to introduce them to other congregants, most of whom congratulated them not only on the event itself, but also on how well Israel had acquitted himself.
Among the congregants Max Slomianski met was international human rights activist and Canadian parliamentarian Irwin Cotler, who has a home in Jerusalem, not far from the synagogue.
Cotler is both a former justice minister and former attorney-general of Canada. As soon as they were introduced, Slomianski invited him to join his family and close friends at lunch, but Cotler politely declined. Slomianski was excited because Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, who is a member of the congregation, had attended Friday services the previous evening, which meant that Slomianski had enjoyed the privilege of meeting two justice ministers from two countries in two days. Cotler spends much of his time Jerusalem when there is a parliamentary recess in Canada.