The American Jewish Community Supports Adoption Equality in Israel

Nearly 200 Jewish Community Leaders from across America have signed a public letter organized by A Wider Bridge supporting same-sex adoption in Israel.

Same Sex Adoption will Strengthen Israeli Society

In response to the growing controversy in Israel regarding adoption by same-sex couples, A Wider Bridge has organized the attached public letter. We are proud that nearly 200 Jewish Community Leaders from across America have signed the letter, which calls on the Israeli Ministries of Justice and Social Affairs to treat same-sex couples with equality in the adoption process. We are grateful to the leadership of Dr. Anita Friedman, Executive Director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, and Roberta Kaplan, Partner, Kaplan & Company, LLP, who assisted us in bringing this effort to fruition.

Included among the signers of the letter are major Jewish community institutions such as Hillel International, The Union for Reform Judaism, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the CEO’s of a number of Jewish Federations and major Jewish philanthropic institutions, many prominent LGBT Jewish leaders, and more than 60 congregational rabbis from across the United States.

The letter states that the unequal treatment of same-sex couples in the adoption process in Israel has created a “crisis of family.”   The letter demands that the policy be changed, stating that: “The government’s brief and position have created a justifiable uproar throughout Israeli society.   LGBTQ Israelis, their families, and allies across the country are speaking out with unparalleled unity at both the callousness and ignorance of the government’s position. We are writing to add our voice to their cause.

After decades of advocacy by its LGBTQ community, Israel has become a leader in many areas of LGBTQ equality, including allowing LGBT people to serve openly in the IDF and providing same-sex families with many of the same benefits and protections that the law provides to straight families.   Adoption by same-sex families has been one of the glaring exceptions.”  

The letter highlights the U.S. Jewish community’s experience with same-sex adoptions and same-sex families: “We have particular experience with this in our Jewish communities. For example, institutions like Jewish Family and Children’s Services have served as leading facilitators of adoption by same-sex families. And our Hebrew Schools, Day Schools, camps and youth groups across the country are filled with bright, well-adjusted children from families with same-sex parents. There are many important qualities that lead to strong, well-adjusted families – but the sexual orientation of parents is not among them.”

The letter concludes with this demand: “It is time for the Israeli ministries who control the adoption process to acknowledge this reality, and to treat the country’s same-sex families and would-be parents with the equality they deserve. Israel and the Jewish people will be better off for it.”

To add your name to the letter, email admin@awiderbridge.org, with your Name, Organization, City and State.

The Complete Letter (English)

Same-Sex Adoption Will Strengthen Israeli Society

To: The Israeli Ministries of Justice and Social Affairs
At the center of Jewish life lies the family — raising and educating children, providing
a loving and caring home, helping children to develop strong values and character,
and enabling them to discover the treasure of our traditions. L’dor v’dor. The role of
the family in Israel, as in Jewish communities everywhere, is central to the
continuity of the Jewish people.
The Israeli ministers defending adoption inequality are creating a “crisis of family.”
Legally, same-sex families are able to adopt in Israel, but in practice, the State puts
their applications at the bottom of the pile, and they are only allowed to adopt a
child if no willing heterosexual parents can be found. There have been no more than
a handful of instances in the past decade of adoption in Israel by same-sex families.
Yet the demand is there and growing – many Israeli same-sex families have used
channels abroad, primarily adoption and surrogacy outside of Israel, to create loving
families.
We stand in support of the Israel Religious Action Center and the Israeli Association
of Gay Fathers, who went to the High Court to compel the State to end adoption
inequality. The government’s brief to the Court – which stated that adoption by
“irregular” families creates “added baggage for the children” – was quickly retracted,
but their policy position remains. The Court has given the State three months to
develop a new position on the matter.
The government’s brief and position have created a justifiable uproar throughout
Israeli society. LGBTQ Israelis, their families, and allies across the country are
speaking out with unparalleled unity at both the callousness and ignorance of the
government’s position. We are writing to add our voice to their cause.
After decades of advocacy by its LGBTQ community, Israel has become a leader in
many areas of LGBTQ equality, including allowing LGBT people to serve openly in
the IDF and providing same-sex families with many of the same benefits and
protections that the law provides to straight families. Adoption by same-sex
families has been one of the glaring exceptions. On this issue, perhaps there is
something for Israel to learn from our experience.
In the United States, with a recent federal court decision in Mississippi, adoption by
same-sex families is now legal in all 50 states, and in many states such adoptions
have been legal for decades. For example, in New York, where many Jewish samesex
couples live, adoption by same-sex couples has been legal since 1995. According
to research done at The Williams Institute, same-sex parents raise 4% percent of all
adopted children in the United States – one in twenty-five.
No competent or credible scientific evidence exists that suggests children raised by
same-sex families are any worse off than children raised by heterosexual
families. On the contrary, study after study has shown that children raised by samesex
parents fare at least as well as children raised by mixed-gender parents.
In the case of United States v Windsor (brought by a lesbian Jewish plaintiff), the
United States Supreme Court focused specifically on this issue, raising issues
involving dignity, respect and community that are fundamental to the Jewish
tradition. Specifically, Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court explained that a
critical problem with policies like the current one in Israel that deny equal
protection to gay parents is that they “humiliate [] . . . [the] children now being
raised by same-sex couples [making] it even more difficult for the children to
understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with
other families in their community and in their daily lives.”
We have particular experience with this in our Jewish communities. For example,
institutions like Jewish Family and Children’s Services have served as leading
facilitators of adoption by same-sex families. And our Hebrew Schools, Day Schools,
camps and youth groups across the country are filled with bright, well-adjusted
children from families with same-sex parents. There are many important qualities
that lead to strong, well-adjusted families – but the sexual orientation of parents is
not among them.
It is time for the Israeli ministries who control the adoption process to acknowledge
this reality, and to treat the country’s same-sex families and would-be parents with
the equality they deserve. Israel and the Jewish people will be better off for it.

 

Signed by

Signed by
Dr. Anita Friedman, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Roberta Kaplan, Kaplan & Company, LLP, New York, NY
Arthur Slepian, A Wider Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Bruce Maxwell, A Wider Bridge, Los Angeles, CA

A Wider Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi David Stern, President and Rabbi Steven Fox, CEO
Hillel International, Washington, DC
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, President, Washington, DC
Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, New York, NY

Bruce M. Abrams, Esq., Chair, City of San Diego International Affairs Board, San Diego, CA
Melissa Adams, Temple Adas Israel, Washington, DC
Rabbi Joel Alter, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Rabbi Heather Altman, Chicago Jewish Community Leader, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Gideon Aronoff, Ameinu, New York, NY Susan Barnett, Cause Communications, New York, NY
Cantor David Berger, KAM Isaiah Israel, Chicago, IL
Suzan Berns, Congregation Rodef Sholom, Mill Valley, CA
Alex Bernstein, Officer of the Board of Directors, Jewish Community Relations Council, SF Bay Area, CA
Rabbi Michael Bernstein, Congregation Gesher L’Torah; Board Member, SOJOURN, Atlanta, GA
Gabriel Blau, Equality New York, New York, NY
The Honorable Richard Bloom, California State Assembly, Santa Monica, CA
Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, Maryland Jewish Community Leader, Gaithersburg, MD
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bozdin, Israel Center of Conservative Judaism, Queens, NY
Rabbi James Brandt, CEO, Jewish Federation of the East Bay, Berkeley, CA
Prof. David Brodsky, Department of Judaic Studies, Brooklyn College, New York, NY
Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Central Synagogue, New York, NY
Jeremy Burton, Boston Jewish Community Leader, Boston, MA
Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana, Congregation Beth Israel, Portland, OR
Rabbi Dror Chankin-Gould, Anshe Emet Synagogue, Chicago, IL
Louise Chernin, President & CEO, Greater Seattle Business Association, Seattle, WA
Michael Chertok, President, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco, CA
Leah Cohen, Adoption Connection, San Jose, CA
Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen, Beth Israel Congregation, Lexington Park, MD
Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, New Israel Fund, San Francisco, CA
Paul Cohen, Past President, Sha’ar Zahav, Mill Valley, CA
Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, Temple Sholom of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Mychal Copeland, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Robin Damsky, In the Gardens, Maywood, IL
Gia Daniller-Katz, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Ricky Dessen, Congregation Rodef Sholom, Mill Valley, CA
Anita Diamant, Brookline Jewish Community Leader, Brookline, MA
Barbara Dobkin, New York Jewish Community Leader, New York, NY
Traci Dobronravova, Director, Seniors at Home, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Lisa Edwards, Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, D.D., Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood, CA
Rabbi Amy Eilberg, California Jewish Community Leader, Los Altos, CA
Steve Eisenbach-Budner, Tivnu: Building Justice, Portland, OR
Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein, University Synagogue, Los Angeles, CA
Richard Fiedotin, Chair, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Steven Fox, CEO, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Los Angeles, CA
Joshua Friedes, Director of Rabbinic and Synagogue Engagement, J Street, Palm Springs, CA
Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman, Beth Emet the Free Synagogue, Evanston, IL
Stephen Garfinkel, New York Jewish Community Leader, New York, NY
Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Co-Chair, T’ruah, Washington, DC
Asher Gellis, JQ International, West Hollywood, CA
S. Asher Gelman, Director/Playwright, Afterglow Off Broadway, New York, NY
Susie and Michael Gelman, The Morningstar Foundation, Bethesda, MD
Rabbi Jeremy Gimbel, San Diego Jewish Community Leader, San Diego, CA
Sam Goldman, Co-Chair, LGBT Alliance of the San Francisco Jewish Federation, San Francisco, CA
Cantor Mark Goldman, Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El, Plantation, FL
Rabbi Megan GoldMarche, Metro Chicago Hillel, Chicago, IL
Paige GoldMarche, University of Chicago Hillel, Chicago, IL
Joan Goldner, Associate Manager of Business Development, Seniors at Home, San Francisco, CA
Cantor David Goldstein, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, IL
Rabbi Sam Gordon, Congregation Sukkat Shalom, Wilmette, IL
Rabbi Judy Greenberg, Chicago Jewish Community Leader, Chicago, IL
Rabbi David Greenstein, Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Montclair, NJ
Danny Grossman, CEO, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, San Francisco, CA
Peter Grossman, Florida Jewish Community Leader, Delray Beach, FL
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz, Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, MA
Amy C. Harfeld, JD, Children’s Advocacy Institute- USD School of Law, San Diego, CA
Jim Heeger, California Jewish Community Leader, Palo Alto, CA
Rabbi Sydney M. Helbraun, Temple Beth-El, Northbrook, IL
Rabbi Lauren Henderson, Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellow at Mishkan, Chicago, IL
Frederick Hertz, Attorney, Author and Mediator, San Francisco, CA
Prof. Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann, Mishkan Chicago, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Rachel Issacs, Colby College, Waterville, ME
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director, T’ruah, New York, NY
Miryam Kabakov, Eshel, St. Paul, MN
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, Ansche Chesed, New York, NY
Rabbi Frederick Kamil, Congregation Etz Chaim, Lombard, IL
Leslie Kane, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Nancy K. Kaufman, Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Jewish Women, New York, NY
David Kazdan, JQ International, Beverly Hills, CA
Idit Klein, Executive Director, Keshet, Boston, MA
Susan Kolb, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Mill Valley, CA
Andrea Korsunsky, Seniors at Home, San Francisco, CA
Prof. Jonathan Krasner, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Rabbi Claudia Kreiman, Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, MA
Stuart Kurlander, LGBTQ Philanthropist & Community Leader, Washington, DC
Joy Ladin, Yeshiva University, New York, NY
Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Shir Tikvah, Minneapolis, MN
Sam Lauter, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Adam Lavitt, Hebrew Senior Life, Providence, RI
Libby Lenkinski, New Israel Fund, Brooklyn, NY
The Honorable Mark Leno, Former California Senator, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi David Lerner, Immediate Past President, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, Lexington, MA
Rachel Lerner, Senior Vice President for Community Relations, J Street, Brooklyn, NY
Nancy Levin, Vice President, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco, CA
Kathy Levinson, Lesbian Equity Foundation, Los Altos, CA
Rabbi Adina Lewittes, Sha’ar Communities, Bergen County, NJ
Ron Lezell, A Wider Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Susan Lowenberg, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Alexander Lurie, Vice President, Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Prof. Barbara Mann, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Cantor David Mannes, Beth Shalom Congregation, Edmonton, Alberta
Cathy Manshel, JFCS San Francisco (Public Issues Committee) and JCRC Assembly Member, SF, CA
Rabbi Craig Marantz, Emanuel Congregation, Chicago, IL
Cantor Andrea Rae Marcowicz, Illinois Jewish Community Leader, Evanston, IL
Rabbi Janet Marder, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA
Seth M. Marnin, Board Member, Keshet, New York, NY
Arya Marvazy, Assistant Director, JQ International, Los Angeles, CA
Deborah Megdal, Rabbinical Student, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Samuel Mendales, Hillel Council of New England, Newton Center, MA
Daryl Messinger, Chair, URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) Board, Palo Alto, CA
Deborah Meyer, CEO, Moving Traditions, Jenkintown, PA
Rabbi Sarah Meytin, Rockville Open House, Silver Spring, MD
Elaine Michaud, Senior Designer/Art Director, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Rachel S Mikva, Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Heather Miller, Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Jason Miller, Kosher Michigan, Detroit, MI
Rabbi Sydney Mintz, Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Jack Moline, Virginia Jewish Community Leader, Alexandria, VA
Shelby Morales, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Daly City, CA
Gabe Most, New York Jewish Community Leader, New York, NY
Rabbi Robin Nafshi, Temple Beth Jacob, Concord, NH
Melanie Nathan, Executive Director, African Human Rights Coalition, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, Am Yisrael Congregation, Northfield, IL
Joyce Newstat, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, NY
Rabbi Shuli Passow, New York Jewish Community Leader, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Barbara Penzner, Temple Hillel Bnai Torah, Boston, MA
Abigail Porth, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco, CA
John Pritzker, Geolo Capital, San Francisco, CA
Lisa Pritzker, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Joshua Rabin, New York Jewish Community Leader, New York, NY
Cantor Sam Radwine, Congregation Etz Chaim, Bentonville, AR
Dana Raucher, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, New York, NY
Alan Raznick, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Fred Reeves, KAM Isaiah Israel, Chicago, IL
Andrew Rehfeld, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO
Paul Resnick, Vice President, Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Rick Rheins, Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Denver, CO
Rabbi Jason Rodich, Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco, CA
Michael Rogers, Washington Jewish Community Leader, Washington, DC
Phyllis K. Rosen, Bet Am Shalom Synagogue, Scarsdale, NY
Rabbi Adam Rosenwasser, Temple Sinai, Washington, DC
Rabbi John Rosove, National Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, Los Angeles, CA
Cantor Faryn Kates Rudnick, Temple Beth-El, Northbrook, IL
Rabbi Louis Sachs Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Toronto, Ontario
Robert J. Saferstein, Eighteen:22, New York, NY
Steven Saxe, Congregation Rodef Sholom, Corte Madera, CA
Marty Schenker, President, Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco, CA
Karen Schiller, Past President, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, The Rabbincal Assembly, New York, NY
Lynn Schusterman, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Tulsa, OK
Elizabeth Schwartz, Miami LGBTQ and Jewish Community Leader, Miami, FL
Rabbi Zach Shapiro, Temple Akiba, Culver City, CA
Dr. David Shneer, Jewish History Department, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Lydia Shorenstein, San Francisco Jewish Community Leader, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Beth Singer, Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco, CA
Daniel Sokatch, New Israel Fund, San Francisco, CA
Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director, Freedom to Marry, New York, NY
Michael M Sonduck, CEO, Jewish Federation of San Diego County, San Diego, CA
Rabbi Samuel L. Spector, Temple Judea, Tarzana, CA
Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro, University Synagogue, Los Angeles, CA
Rebecca Stapel-Wax, Executive Director, SOJOURN, Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, Adas Israel Senior Rabbinical Advisor, Washington, DC
Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, Temple Beth Hillel, Valley Villiage, CA
Sandra Strauss Stern, MD, JFCS Marin/SF PIC, Congregation Kol Shofar, Mill Valley, CA
Rabbi Shira Stutman, Senior Rabbi, Sixth & I, Washington, DC
Rabbi Alana Suskin, Maryland Jewish Community Leader, Rockville, MD
Adam Suttin, Boston Jewish Community Leader, Boston, MA
Tahlia Tartakovsky, Nevada Jewish Community Leader, Carson City, NV
Lawrence Timmins, Florida Jewish Community Leader, Delray Beach, FL
Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY
Debbie Toizer, PIC Committee of JFCS, Kentfield, CA
Rachel Tuchman, Kaplan and Company, New York, NY
Lauren Tuchman, Rabbinical Student, the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Rabbi Jan Uhrbach, Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons, Bridgehampton, NY
Rabbi Burt Visotzky, PhD, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Rabbi Andrew Vogel, Temple Sinai, Brookline, MA
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, PhD, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, Wyncote, PA
Rabbi Aaron Weininger, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka, MN
The Honorable Scott Wiener, California State Senator, San Francisco, CA
Arnee R Winshall, Massachusetts Jewish Community Leader, Weston, MA
Jennifer Wolfe, Officer of the Board of Directors, Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco, CA
Evan Wolfson, Founder, Freedom to Marry, New York, NY
Emmanuel Seth Yekutiel, Manny’s, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Sara Zacharia, New York Jewish Community Leader, New York, NY
Rabbi Ben Zeidman, Temple Mount Sinai, El Paso, TX
Julie K Zeisler, Executive Director, Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California, Los Angeles, CA
Rimma Zelfand, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Boston, MA
Les Zendle, MD, Desert Healthcare District, Palm Springs, CA