Nearly Half the Families in Israel Are Outside of the Consensus

“Nearly half the families in Israel are outside of the consensus”, says Advocate Irit Rosenblum, Founder and Executive Director of New Family. “The state mistreats 800,000 families. Women who have civil wedding in Cyprus, for example, are not entitled to alimony.”

“I began to formulate the idea of ​​ New Family in the middle of the previous decade. The decisive event happened in 1996-1997. A battered woman from the Ethiopian community arrived at a women’s shelter after her husband stabbed her, and stayed there for several months with her children.  There is no rehabilitation in such cases, and she had to divorce her husband. I accompanied her to the rabbinical court. He screamed, ‘You are not even Jewish, and she responds, ‘I’m not Jewish, you’re not Jewish’. It played into the hands of the Rabbis, and after 24 hours comes a deportation order. I tell myself: “This is an impossible situation, he will kill her on the plane”.  Advocate Irit Rosenblum, Founder and Executive Director of New Family, Globes attorney and leader in the struggle for civil marriage in Israel relates the story in a conversation with Globes.

She says, “I realized that in a single moment, you can fall out of the mainstream, and be vulnerable to institutional discrimination, not to receive services, when talking about non-Jews, unmarried couples, couples who married in a civil ceremony, same-sex couples, and single- parents. I managed to stop the deportation, but I do not know what fate she met later. It was clear to me that there was a deep systemic failure, if Israel, the Immigrant State, which sent aircraft to Ethiopia to bring these people, later abandoned them (due to their religious status”. (translator’s note)

Basic Law on Family

“The first thing I wanted to do was to define in law what a family unit is, so that people could be protected and receive a set of rights,” says Rosenblum. “The idea is to enact the Basic Law on the family, that will broadly define the family unit and include within it the new types of family structures.

“The main message is: family is not disintegrating, but changing shape. People are creatures of family, and society should give them an answer. “Today, the state mistreats 800,000 families. Did you know that women who have civil weddings in Cyprus, for example, are not entitled to alimony?”
“I formed a team of professionals from the fields of behavioral sciences, political science, and statistics. We collected incriminating research material to substantiate the theory of the human right to family. We registered an association. The end of 1998, we ran to the Knesset, and gathered signatures of 35 members of Knesset. Later, some left their positions. Moved. Canceled their support. I realized that the direction is not practical.

“We made up our minds to set up organizational infrastructure. I see myself as a revolutionary, and I had to build an army. The newspaper published a small item on our services to families who suffer infringements to their right to exist or to be protected.  We were inundated by 400 calls. We stepped on a blister”.

“We starting to deal with legal inquiries from the public and think about the High Court of Justice. In 2001, we petitioned the court to approve consular marriages in Israel.  We then petitioned the High Court of Justice to cancel the Courts to Clarify Jewish Status. This went on for years.  So I pursued another direction:  to inundate family courts with masses of claims.  For example, petitioning courts to ratify legal agreements between same-sex couples. At first, they threw me down the stairs, but we submitted petitions all over the country, and judges confirmed the agreements. It created legal precedents and increased social acceptance.  We have handled over 100,000 people since we started. The little baby has become something great.”

Sperm bank for soldiers

“In 2001, I contemplated the idea of ​​a sperm bank for soldiers”, says Rosenblum. “A young man who was injured in his testicles during the army came to me. At the end of his military service, he saw a private doctor, who informed him: ‘You have nothing left, just water.” Untreated infections destroyed his fertility.  When he left, I told myself: If he had donated sperm donor before the draft, fatherhood would be possible. The entire nation is an army. And you don’t even need to establish a new sperm bank, since there are already 13 of them in Israel”.

“I asked how many people have lost their reproductive capacity in the army. I wrote to the Chief of Staff, Defense Minister, the Chief Military Rabbi.  I convened a press conference, and a bereaved family came to me asking: ‘Why were we not told there is the option’? Sperm can be extracted 72 hours after death. The army still has not cooperated, but the Indian army has such an arrangement, and every soldier in the U.S. Army sent overseas has been offered the chance to freeze sperm”.

“In 2002, the soldier Kevin Cohen was killed in Gaza. His mother asked to extract sperm, and it was the first time that I won such a case. In 2005, I founded the world’s first Biological Will Bank. Today, it contains 500 documents in which people request to continue their biological legacy.

“Baruch Posniasnky, when he contracted cancer, was the first request, unfortunately, to be carried out. It gives a point to that action – making an enchanting possibility to create a family unit where there was none. To bring into the world a child, born to a mother who wants to raise him, who will know his roots, and that he was a wanted child.”

Translated from Globes, June 16, 2011.,U1308814384435&did=1000654961

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