Israeli Dads Asked: Which One of You is the Mother, 'Like in A Normal Family?'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday November 19, 2019

A gay couple stumbled into a surreal episode of bureaucracy when they went to register their twin daughters in a Tel Aviv preschool, reports NBC News.

Because the preschool program is supported by government funding through the Ministry of Labor and Social Services, the longtime couple, Guy Sadaka and Hai Aviv, contacted that ministry - and that's where things took a turn for the bizarre.

Citing Hebrew news source ynet, NBC reported on how the government employee who answered their call to the ministry demanded to know which of the two men was the "mother" of the 2-year-old girls. That person also suggested that their family was not "normal" because it was headed by two men.

NBC summarized the account offered by Sadaka, who says that the bureaucrat he dealt with said:

"I understand that you are both fathers and that you run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more 'the mother' "... I am just asking for a written statement declaring which of you is the mother.

Though the woman on the phone with him said that she had to work within the guidelines of an outdated system, and asked him to bear with her, she also let slip some telling indications about how she might have thought about families like Sadadka and Aviv's. The bureaucrat went on to ask Sadaka: "From the point of view of the work — who works less than the father? Like in a normal family."

Haaretz reported on the phone ordeal in more detail, recounting that the fathers heard this from the woman:

"I'm not asking too much of you, all I am asking is a statement in writing by you which one of you is the mother. You can write that you are the mother or that your partner is in effect the mother... That's how it works as far as the instructions are concerned and that's what I need."

NBC reached out to Sadaka for comment, and he said:

"It kind of made me laugh. But this ignorance in a government office when it's just about 2020 just seems crazy to me. I felt frustrated that I have to give answers that don't make any sense."

NBC reported that because the men resorted to a surrogate in the U.S. to become fathers, they still have to surmount legal issues around getting their family fully recognized by the Israeli government.

"As long as the religious parties still control the government, we won't see a real change," Sadaka despaired.

NBC noted that marriage equality is not granted to same-sex families in Israel and adoption equality was only approved last year. It was also only last year that same-sex parents could both be listed on a child's birth certificate.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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