"We were very happy to hear the news about the Shared Life Card that Havaya issues. For me, it’s a way of validating and recognizing our choice – another proof that we are a married couple."
Almost two years ago, Gilad and I stood under our wedding canopy and promised each other that we would live our lives together in partnership and love. We were married in a Jewish ceremony, with kiddushin, a ring, a chuppah, the seven traditional blessings and so much excitement and joy in our hearts. But – the man who officiated at the ceremony was Ofer, the wonderful friend who introduced us to each other and the perfect person for the task.
Like many couples, we also decided not to have a rabbi at our ceremony. Not because we have something against religion, against Judaism or against our heritage; actually, the opposite is true. The choice that we made and our learning in preparation for the ceremony in fact brought us closer to our roots, and at our wedding, religious and ultra-Orthodox relatives and friends attended and shared in our celebration. The choice to leave the rabbinate out of the picture was an ethical choice, a response to the absurd situation in Israel in which religious laws govern the most intimate and sensitive choices that people make in their lives. As people who grew up on the words of the famous Israeli song, “Don’t say the day will come – bring the day,” we felt that with this small decision of ours, we are taking part in the efforts to promote social change.
We were very happy to hear the news about the Shared Life Card that Havaya issues. Aside from the fact that having the card in my wallet is practical (it has my spouse’s ID number on it), for me, it’s also a way of validating and recognizing our choice – another proof, a bit more official, of the fact that we are a married couple.
I admit that I felt emotional before the launch event for the couplehood cards…I felt that we were sort of getting married all over again. There was something special about the event, at which hundreds of couples convened on a boiling hot Tel Aviv afternoon, some with babies in their wombs or in their arms. They had all halted their daily routines to make time to declare their decision to live a shared life together – in a completely civil and legally valid manner.
I signed the legal declaration proudly – because I’m proud to be Gilad’s wife and proud to be part of a civilian movement that takes action instead of waiting for something to happen, thereby shaping the reality that it hopes to see.
The launch event came at a perfect time for us. A week later, we already used our Shared Life Cards at a government office, and we were happy to see that no one even raised an eyebrow. They treated us like any other married couple. We saw that even in terms of receiving our rights, we’ll be fine.
Since the event, I’ve kept my card in my wallet at all times. Knowing that it’s there if I need it makes me feel confident, and I’m happy to use it when necessary. I believe that if more and more people choose to take action and formalize their relationships according to their personal preference, the authorities will need to adapt themselves to the changing reality and supply appropriate solutions. Until that happens, I am happy that there are civil social organizations like Be Free Israel, and specifically initiatives like Havaya, which enable each individual to choose the manner in which they want to get married. They are creating possibilities where none formerly existed and truly making this option accessible, personal and meaningful.