Meet the Berner-Kadish Family

11 June 2015

Ruti and Nicole have three sons. Their legal struggle began in 1996 following the birth of their oldest son Mattan. Ruti recalled, “We visited the Israeli consulate to register him as a child born to Israelis abroad. We were told that it was not possible to register one child with two mothers, even though in California we were both legal parents pursuant to a ‘second parent adoption’.”

Flagship NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) took up their case and petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court, which ruled in 2000 that the Ministry of Interior must record both Ruti and Nicole as Mattan’s parents. Even so, it wasn’t until 2002 before the Ministry acceded the order of the Supreme Court.

But the struggle did not stop there. The Ministry of Interior appealed and asked for the case to be heard by an expanded panel of Supreme Court judges, and then refused to register their two younger children — Naveh and Segev — as Ruti’s children. ACRI continued to argue the case, and when the appeal was finally heard in December 2007, the Supreme Court not only found in favor of Ruti and Nicole; they also reprimanded the Ministry of Interior for wasting the court’s time.

On December 6, 2009, Ruti and Nicole’s 14-year legal struggle came to an end when Israel’s Ministry of Interior finally agreed to register Ruti as Segev’s mother.

“In practice we have always been a family,” explained Ruti, “but for both of us to legally be recognized by the State as the mothers of our children gives us enormous peace of mind. It is not just the bureaucratic inconvenience that I could not go and register Naveh and Segev for school; it is the fear that if something happened to one of us, the children could be taken away from their other mother.”

“It is important for our children to know that their lived reality at home – that each of them has two mothers and two brothers – is reflected in the law,” Nicole said, “and that their family is recognized and protected by the State.”

Ruti, who was born in Be’er Sheva and raised near Tel Aviv and Nicole, born in England and raised in the US, first began dating in Israel in 1992. They had a Jewish wedding in Berkeley, California in 1994 and subsequently went to Canada in 2003 for a legally recognized marriage. They currently live outside of Washington, DC where Ruti is NIF’s Director of Foundation Relations and Nicole is the Deputy General Counsel of SEIU.