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Hava Mendelle

Finding the ideal Jew

The perfect wife will…

  1. Be Jewish
  2. Be 170 – 175cm tall
  3. Have long, dark, curly hair
  4. Be good looking
  5. Be between 25 and 35 years old
  6. Have a good career
  7. Have a stable family
  8. Want to get married
  9. Want children

This is the list I wrote before packing up my life in Australia and moving to Israel and making Aliyah in 2016. A simple list with a clear objective, I wanted (and needed) to meet a Jewish woman to marry. Jewish lesbians are not a rarity and I did not have to pick Israel as my target destination. I am sure that Sydney, Melbourne or even New York would have presented me with various options for my search. However, meeting a gay, Jewish woman often comes with the “woke” salad of all the other liberal identities and political beliefs that don’t digest well with me. For example, the pro-socialist, anti-capitalist agenda that is trending throughout university campuses at present. This socialist agenda happens to be anti-Israel and requires any Jew to denounce Israel and Zionism as oppressive and imperialist. This is not new and this is not something that I will do.

Israel was my chosen destination because after some ten years of university study and living in the Diaspora, I became tired of the anti-Israel sentiment growing in the West. My first Times of Israel blog post reads, “It was common to hear flippant remarks that Israel’s biggest problem is Gaza and to boycott the state (Israel) to entice action…In a time of growing anti-Israel sentiment coupled with news media bias and sensationalism it becomes increasingly difficult to continue to defend Israel’s right to exist – and my own.” I wrote this in November 2016 and not much has changed. These are the words of a young Jewish woman growing tired of being the only Jew amongst her friends and the only person defending the Jewish people’s right to exist in their ancestral homeland.

Having been in these liberal academic circles for ten years and conversing with the LGBTQIA+ groups, I found it hard to identify with anything they believed. First, being gay is not an identity – it is a sexuality – and who I sleep with has nothing to do with how I view the world, my values, my beliefs, nor my behavior. Kindness and empathy come from values and those values are Jewish values of Tikun Olam and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” No matter the extent of the conversation within LGBTQIA+ groups there was always the sticking point that being Jewish was somehow a little dirty. Even the Jewish gay people I knew who did adopt the anti-Zionist stance never quite fit in and never quite felt at home because essentially being Jewish does mean accepting the archaeological remnants of our ancestors, the temple in Jerusalem, the yearning to return to Zion that is written about throughout the Hebrew scriptures. It takes a significant amount of mental gymnastics to try to negate those elements of Jewish thought and to accuse Jews of being white, European, colonialists. My brain isn’t that flexible.

There was no way I was going to bend on marrying someone who didn’t support my Jewish identity and who didn’t support Israel. This is why Israel became the destination of choice – I needed to improve my odds in the Venn diagram of three small overlapping circles – Jewish, Lesbian, Zionist.

I was lucky. Israel was the right destination and I did meet the very woman with whom I am spending the rest of my life. We met in Tel Aviv in 2017 during the biggest Pride parade in the Middle East; I stopped into a restaurant and there she was. Israel hasn’t legalized gay marriage yet but it does recognize same-sex marriages from overseas. Moreover, Israel does recognize cohabitation between same-sex couples and recognizes same-sex unions. It was in fact the first country in Asia to do so. On February 14th 2018, just over six months after we met, my ideal woman and I became legally de-facto in Israel with equal rights to that of a married couple. When we returned to Australia, we married for the visa and then Israel recognized our marriage in return.

It’s 2024 and I am raising Jewish children with a Jewish partner and I don’t have to sacrifice my values or identity for the sake of fitting in with neo-Marxists who eat woke salad everyday. Instead, I feel lucky that the country my ancestors come from and the people who fought and continue to fight for its survival, will not only defend my right to exist but they will defend my right to exist however I want. That’s something to be proud of this Pride month.

 

About the Author
Hava Mendelle is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Queensland, Australia, and has an interest in politics and identity. Her schooling and work have spanned four different continents and multiple cities from London to Tel Aviv, from New York to Sydney, and she experienced multiple Jewish communities.