Diana Lipton
A Bible scholar on the streets of Jerusalem

A ‘normal’ family: Notes from our ancestors

“Father and Mother = Family . The courage to be normal.” (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On Tuesday, [ahead of Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade] another right-wing group, Hazon (Vision), posted signs around the city protesting same-sex families. The posters countered the LGBT movement with the slogan “Father and Mother = Family. The courage to be normal.” The Jerusalem Municipality ordered that the signs be removed, saying they constituted hate speech.  TOI STAFF, 6 June 2019, 6:34 am   

The head of the city’s department for public advertising, Hagar Achdut, announced on Tuesday night that the decision to take down the posters stemmed from the many complaints the municipality had fielded on the matter. “The content of the campaign in question could hurt the feelings of some members of the public living in Jerusalem, so I am ordering all the ads to be removed within six hours as of receiving this notice,” she wrote.  Nir Hasson, Aaron Rabinowitz  and Haaretz  Jun 06, 2019 8:57 PM

A sign against same-sex marriage in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019. The Hebrew words say “Father and Mother = Family . The courage to be normal.” (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A source very deep inside the Jerusalem Municipality was willing to share the following correspondence from grateful Jerusalem residents.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: ​Avraham Avinu​ <a​viav1​8​>
Date: ​Wed, ​5​ Jun 2019 at 18:49
Subject: Re: ​Insensitive signs
To: ​Jerusalem Municipality​ <​Muni@​>

Dear Jerusalem Municipality,

I am writing to commend you for the sensitivity you showed regarding the deeply offensive signs and banners that multiplied in Jerusalem ahead of the Gay Pride Parade: ‘Mother and Father = Family : the courage to be normal’. I saw them on my way to the kotel, and my heart fell. Please, please don’t let Sarah see these, I said to myself. All I need the day before the chag is a bunch of nudniks re-opening those painful scars. The housekeeper was Sarah’s idea, of course, but she hadn’t thought it through. It was hard to break the news that we weren’t going to be The Little House on the Prairie after all. I don’t blame Sarah, though. I blame God. It was his way of making sure I understood the full extent of his mission impossible: all the families of the earth will be blessed through you. Halavai I need only worry about families with one imma and one abba.


Avraham Avinu

———- Forwarded message ———
From: ​Ya’akov Avinu​ <​Sulam​@​>
Date: ​Wed, ​5​ Jun 2019 at ​20​:​5​0
Subject: Re: ​Offensive Banner
To: ​Jerusalem Municipality​ <​Muni@​>

Dear Jerusalem Municipality,

My grandfather forwarded a copy of the e-mail he sent you, and I want to add my voice to his commendation. In my case, unfortunately, the damage had already been done. My wives saw one of the offending signs on their way to the shuk, and they came back up in arms. “Father and Mother = Family: the courage to be normal”, they cried out in unison! What kind of chutzpah is that?! Who are these amei’ ha’aretz, these ignoramuses who don’t even know their own history, to tell us that our family isn’t normal because we are two mothers, plus the housekeepers?  I tried to calm them down. Rachele, Leahle, don’t take it personally. They weren’t thinking of families like ours. They meant … uhh … families with two parents of the same gender. But that made them shout even louder. Don’t you get it, Yankel, they shouted? We are a family of two parents of the same gender! More than two!  What’s the difference? Just then, min ha’shamayim, I heard my WhatsApp bing. It was Saba Avraham with the happy news that the signs were being taken down. The Jerusalem Municipality is on your side, I told my wives. Ah … the sweet taste of vindication. Shalom bayit was restored. Thank you, Jerusalem!


Ya’akov Avinu

———- Forwarded message ———
From: ​David Ha’Melech <​King@​Palace.​org​>
Date: ​Wed, ​5​ Jun 2019 at ​22:​2​0
Subject: Re: ​Treacherous Banners
To: ​Jerusalem Municipality​ <​Muni@​>

To: The Jerusalem Municipality

From: The House of David

News has reached me of the proliferation throughout my holy city of signs and banners bent on undermining my eternal authority: “Father and Mother = Family: the courage to be normal’. My son and heir Solomon lacked a ‘normal’ family because I had many wives?! My grandchildren were not raised in a ‘normal’ family because my son Solomon had even more?! It is my duty to inform you that David Ha’Melech is not a one-way street. You’ve plastered my name all over this city – David’s Tower, David’s City, King David Hotel, King David Residence, David Dagim … – and I haven’t breathed a word of objection. But if I hear even a whisper of the hint of a rumor that these disgraceful signs have reappeared, you can expect a visit from my henchmen call from my lawyers. And don’t try telling them that the signs were about same-sex relationships. I’m not interested.

Yours for eternity,

King David

———- Forwarded message ———
From: ​Naomi <​Ovedssavta@​​>
Date: ​Wed, ​5​ Jun 2019 at ​23:​45
Subject: Re: ​Heartless Signs
To: ​Jerusalem Municipality​ <​Muni@​>

Dear Jerusalem Municipality,

When I saw those terrible signs, only days before my chag, no less, I was in shock. Call me Mara again, I told my friends. All the world and her daughter-in-law knows that Father and Mother and Grandma = Family. But then, just in time for my chag, you made those ruthless men take down their signs. Once more my ways were pleasant. Thank you, Jerusalem Municipality! May you and your children and your children’s children be blessed as I have been with my little Oved.

Yours in lovingkindness,

Savta Naomi

About the Author
Before I moved to Israel in 2011, I was a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge (1997-2006), and a Reader in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at King's College London (2007-2011). In Israel, I've taught Bible at Hebrew University's International School and, currently, in the Department of Biblical Studies at Tel Aviv University, where I am a Teaching Fellow and chair the Academic Steering Committee of the Orit Guardians MA program for Ethiopian Jews. I give a weekly parsha shiur at Beit Moses home for the elderly in Jerusalem. I serve on the Boards of Jerusalem Culture Unlimited (JCU) and Hassadna Jerusalem Music Conservatory, and I'm a judge for the Sami Rohr Prize. I'm the very proud mother of Jacob and Jonah, and I live in Jerusalem with my husband Chaim Milikowsky. My last book was 'From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey: A Commentary on Food in the Torah'; proceeds go to Leket, Israel's national food bank. The working title of my next book, co-authored with Micha Price, is 'A Biblical Guide to the Climate Crisis'.
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