Former MHC Rabbi Heads to Israel

Posted: August 3, 2006

Rabbi Lisa Freitag-Keshet, former chaplain to the College, adviser to the Jewish community, and interim dean of religious life, gave up a nice house in Amherst and a secure job at MHC to move to a town in northern Israel that's within range of Hezbollah's rockets, according to a July 27 story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

"As of this weekend [July 29-30], she'll be living in a war zone that many Israelis have evacuated," wrote reporter Nick Grabbe. "And she'll be looking for work."

"One reason for Freitag-Keshet's curious exodus is the immigration problems of her partner, Meraz Kalfon-Keshet, an Israeli citizen. Although the two women are legally married in Massachusetts, the U.S. government does not recognize that union, making it difficult for Meraz to get permission to work here.

" 'I can see the irony, or surrealism, of moving to Israel in time of war,' Freitag-Keshet said. 'But living here with my partner who's been unable to work and treated as insignificant, with regard to her rights to support her family and further her career, is worse than going to a country at war.'

"The two-week-old fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, though disturbing now, is likely to be over before the U.S. government recognizes their marriage, she said. 'The only way for our established, 10-year-old family to stay together is to move to Israel,' she said.

"Freitag-Keshet, 41, is fluent in Hebrew, has studied in Israel and feels closely connected to it as a nation. The couple and their six-year-old twin daughters will be living with Meraz's uncle in a town 40 minutes from Haifa. Israel will recognize their marriage for immigration purposes, and Freitag-Keshet plans to become a citizen."

Freitag-Keshet's move was also featured in the July 31 Jewish Advocate in an article titled "Number of Locals Moving to Israel Increases 44 Percent from Last Year."

Related Link:

Daily Hampshire Gazette (subscription required)