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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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Israeli Court Allows Country’s Most Celebrated Gay Couple to Divorce

One of the two was the first openly gay man elected to the Knesset.
Prof. Uzi Even (R), Dr. Amit Kama (L) and Yossi.

Prof. Uzi Even (R), Dr. Amit Kama (L) and Yossi.

In a precedent decision, which will undoubtedly be considered good news for all Israeli same-sex couples, especially those who aren’t getting along so much any more, a family court in Ramat Gan allowed the couple Prof. Uzi Even and Dr. Amit Kama, both men, to divorce, Ynet reports.

In the ruling, first of its kind, the judge determined that the family court is “the natural forum, the proper forum in which to hear this kind of a divorce case, since the rabbinical court does not recognize same-sex marriages and views them as sinful.” The judge further ruled that the rabbinical court is too “foreign and artificial a forum” to discuss the issue of same-sex relations.

Prof. Even, 64, is a former Meretz MK, and head of the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Amit Kama, 44, is a professor of Communications at Emek Yizrael College. The two met 19 years ago, and since they live as a couple. Their struggles for the rights of same-sex couples received wide coverage in the local Media.

Even was the first openly gay man elected to the Knesset. The two have adopted Yossi, a 30-year-old man who had been living with them for almost 14 years. That adoption—although largely symbolic, given their son’s age—was also a ground breaking family cort case.

For the record, when Even and Kama met, almost two decades ago, homosexual relations were prohibited by law, and they could be subject to ten years in prison – although that was not very likely.

Now, having been the most celebrated Israeli gay couple, the two decided to go their separate ways (no idea which one of them broke the news to Yossi).

Professor Even said there was no legal way for him to turn from being married to being divorced. “This is an absurd situation and I fought it for three years,” he said. “I met someone else and I live with him. He is a foreign national and the Interior Ministry wants to deport him, which was hurting me, because I could not go on with my life without solving the problem of my divorce. They would not give him resident status, only a tourist visa, because I’m already married and there was no legal way for me to get a divorce.”

According to Even, when he approached the rabbinic court, which is in charge of marriages and divorces of Jewish residents, “it started a holy raucous. They refused to record our documents, receive the fee, schedule a meeting. They told us to wait. So we waited a few days. Finally I had enough and I took back the suit, and filed it instead with family court.”

Even suggests that the court’s decision could serve as a precedent not just for the gay community, but for the public at large. “Now we’ll wait and see if the Ministry of the Interior will endorse the decision. I’m doubtful that they will be enlightened about it.”

“Why are they having so much trouble changing my marital status? Why are they forcing me to remain married to someone I no longer live with?”

Even and Kama were married in Canada and their status was changed to married by the Israeli interior ministry. Their marriage hit the rocks back in 2009 and they’ve been living separately since. The two have signed a separation agreement which was accepted by family court in 2011. The couple then requested that the court recommend to the interior ministry to change their status from married to single.

The family court judge indeed recommended the status change, but the Ministry of the Interior refused to change the status based solely on the signed agreement, arguing they had to approach the rabbinical court. But the rabbinical court rejected their request for a ruling saying it did not have the legal framework within which to discuss it.

The family court judge who granted the couple the divorce wrote in his ruling that the various branches of the civil court are the natural forum for such a case, where there exists a long list of decisions determining the specific rights and obligations of same-sex couples.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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23 Responses to “Israeli Court Allows Country’s Most Celebrated Gay Couple to Divorce”

  1. Raluca Andrew says:

    strange…because in israel the same sex marriage its not accepted..so what is this???

  2. Raluca Andrew says:

    the rabbinical court does not recognize same-sex marriages .

  3. Raluca Andrew says:

    after 20 yrs together….:(

  4. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Bilious, sickly, ailing, wan, pale, peaked, pallid and cadaverous.

  5. I believe that the Jewish Press should cover the story of JONAH being sued and the announcement by the Rabbinical Council of America that it does not endorse JONAH.

    JONAH advertises every day in the Jewish Press that it can overcome homosexuality for you if you pay them enough.

    But this lawsuit and the 1000 Rabbis of the RCA are saying this is not true.

    The President and founder of JONAH, Arthur Goldberg, was convicted and disbarred for fraud.

    Readers of the Jewish Press should be informed in order to make their own minds up about this.

  6. Rc Fowler says:

    Homosexuals are mentally ill–and cannot have good relationships based upon homosexuality!

    That Israel would allow so called but not homosexual marriage–is indicative of the reality of the majority of the Jewish people in Israel–that they are in rebellion with God!

    Jews need to live in accord with Torah/Tanakh principles–as there is no other way to please God and consecrate Israel.

  7. Rc Fowler says:

    Why are you here? you are not a supporter of Israel.

  8. Rc Fowler says:

    And what does this have to do with the article?

    Homosexuality is a choice, just as is murder, theft and every other evil which men choose to do!

  9. Maurice Libner says:

    the courts in Israel should not condone this mishegas.

  10. But RC you must realize that everything the homosexuals seem to be involved with has a 'back door' element to it.
    It is ridiculous that Israel should ever even consider the marriage of two men and their so-called adoption of another adult man. Where does the travesty end?
    Either the bible is the word of G-D or it is not! And is not the State of Israel the land G-D gave His people or is it the land given over to pagan pursuits? Make the choice, people of Israel.

  11. Leslie Innis says:

    I agree with Diane Logan, this is a lose lose situation. It is all wrong from the beginnng and not on God's list of considerations. Same sex marriage nor divorce is right in the eyes of God.

  12. Grace Acosta says:

    Wait, I'm confused. If they weren't halachically married (and there's no way they could be), then why would they be sent to a rabbinical court? For a get? That makes as much sense as going to a brain surgeon to get your brakes fixed!

  13. Yori Yanover says:

    Fowler — How can they be both mentally ill and have a choice? You just posted both opinions and I wonder how, in your opinion, can a mentally ill person have a choice about his or her actions?

  14. Yori Yanover says:

    Because this is the normal process at the Israeli interior ministry — you want a divorce you first go to rabbinical court and once they decide you take their decision to Interior to change your status.

  15. and, israel accepts same sex marriages performed abroad.

  16. Rc Fowler You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

    I was bringing up an issue that is important to 1,000 Orthodox Rabbis, to me, and is on every page of the Jewish Press as an advertisement.

    The issue is sexual and psychological abuse as well as false and misleading advertisement by JOHAH.

    This issue is a more complex than the issue of homosexual sex being against the Torah. Certainly the Rabbis that have come out against conversion therapy agree with you that homosexual sex is against the Torah, and is considered evil in the Torah.

    They also understand that homosexual orientation is not evil, is not a sin, and that these therapies are frauds.

    But even though this story made national television, featured on CNN and reported by Wolf Blitzer to millions of people, it was not covered in the Jewish Press because it would make an advertiser look bad.

    If the JP would cover this story, I could have commented there, but it didn't.

    You are right that this issue is not directly related to this article. I happen to believe that Israel should keep marriage in the rabbinate, and that marriages abroad is a better alternative than civil marriages in Israel. It is a good safety valve considering that the alternative would be likely. If you get married abroad, you must be able to divorce in Israel, as nowhere in the world do people have to go to another country to get divorced.

  17. Liad Bar-el says:

    Rc Fowler, for a person whose religious belief is “Christian Sola Scriptura Sola Fide”, you’re doing a pretty good job in your talk backs but not fully hitting the Jewish point of view without Torah education/deeds. For some extra insight, you might want to ask the Rabbi of the Jewish girl that you are involved with provided the Rabbi is Orthodox.

    IMO, Yori, aside from you being one of the best Photoshop artists on the net, one has to have hope that T’shuva changes one’s choices in life and that it’s not just a one-time shot otherwise we would not be saying Tahanun almost every day.

  18. Liad Bar-el says:

    Normally, I avoid such backward, convoluted, perverted subjects for we get enough of this from the Arabs that live around us in Israel. IMO, however, if this couple wants a divorce, then they should go back to the backward, convoluted, perverted country/state/city/office that made the “marriage”.

  19. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Rc Fowler, each of your above three sentences are addressed below.

    1. So too relationships between two opposing religions (xian & Judaism) are not good. After the honey moon is over, all hell breaks out.

    2. Your statement is not true. Only a small faction support gays. There are more policemen protecting gay parades than border guards protecting Israel. You are blaming Israel? You should talk, Rc, when your city, New York, allows same sex marriages and Israel doesn’t.

    3. Rc, are you a modern day crusader? You, a non-Jew, are telling us Israeli “Jews to live in accord with Torah/Tenach principles- as there is no other way to please G-d and consecrate Israel” when you yourself are not doing the same but rather worse from despoiling Jewish families in exile by having affairs with their children and by doing such, they will for sure not come to Israel to consecrate it.

  20. I am personally discusted that it should be mentioned they have chosen a sinful life style contamination is to be avoided

  21. Charlie Hall says:

    Yet another reason for Israel to separate Synagogue and State. It would be the best thing for religious observance there.

  22. Charlie Hall says:

    That is impossible as they no longer live there.

Comments are closed.

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