Knesset becomes cupid for parliamentary aides

Six couples who have met at the Knesset, fallen in love, and gotten engaged, tell their stories in honor of Tu Be'av.

Liran and Noah_311 (photo credit: Noah Slepkov)
Liran and Noah_311
(photo credit: Noah Slepkov)
The Knesset is known for producing legislation and facilitating speeches that cause a full range of emotions, from anger, to satisfaction to downright disgust. But behind the scenes, it is also a source of love.
No less than six couples who have met and worked at the Knesset have fallen in love and gotten engaged in the past three years.
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The only MK on that list is Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who married his parliamentary assistant.
The Knesset website lists two divorced couples who served in the Knesset at the same time and three married couples who served at different times, but no lawmakers who were married to each other while they both served.
The couples who met at the Knesset told their stories Sunday in honor of Tu Be’av, the Jewish holiday of love, which began on Sunday night.
Independence MK Einat Wilf’s parliamentary assistant Noah Slepkov married Channel 2 economic correspondent Liran Denesh July 17. When Denesh worked for the Knesset Channel and Wilf would be interviewed, the MK would send her aide reports about “his Knesset Girl,” whom he admired from watching her on TV.
A native of Saint Catharines, Ontario, Slepkov hoped to marry an Israeli when he made aliya. He said the Knesset is a good place for couples to meet, because it brings together educated young people and forces them to work in what he called “a closed bubble.”
“Cupid brings people together, and the Knesset also acts as a matchmaker,” he said. “I don’t think I could have chosen a better cupid than the parliament of the Jewish people. It’s meaningful, symbolic, and eternal.”
Denesh, who is a native Israeli, said she never thought she would marry a Canadian, but she caught an Anglophile bug when she was on a student exchange program in South Carolina when she was in eleventh grade. They don’t have a native language in common, but they have their experiences working in the Knesset.
“There are a lot of young people at the Knesset who are smart and ambitious and spend long hours together in a pressure cooker,” Denesh said.
“You meet a lot of people there and you have to get along. I don’t know of another workplace with such a treasury of young intellectuals.”
Likud spokeswoman Noga Rappaport and Nachi Katz, a political adviser to Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, will get married August 28 after seven months together. They met in the hallway at the Knesset when according to Rappaport, she “hit on him.”
They went on dates in the Knesset cafeteria and were both chosen for a trip that took parliamentary aides to London shortly after they got engaged.
Rappaport said it is hard to maintain a relationship when working long hours but it is easier when both are in a similar position.
“We are always on the phone and texting when we are on dates,” she said. “But it’s easier than when I dated non-political people, and I had to explain that I have to pick up the phone at night.”
Sometimes Knesset couples come from the same faction as in the case of Kerem Avishai and Yigal Achtenberg, who are both aides to lawmakers in Israel Beiteinu and are getting married on September 9. Sometimes parliamentary aides marry Knesset staffers, as in the case of former Labor MK Danny Yatom’s aide Michal Franco, who married Sefi Kedmi, who worked in the Knesset’s legal department.
And sometimes Knesset couples come from different ends of the political spectrum, as in the case of National Union MK Arye Eldad’s spokeswoman Na’ama Cohen and Kadima MK Otniel Schneller’s spokesman Ohad Yehezkeli, who are planning an October 10 wedding.
“We leave our politics at work but he will eventually learn that Arye is always right,” Cohen joked. “With all the young people who work together at the Knesset, I am surprised there aren’t more couples who meet here.”