Israeli Lesbians Become Face of Struggle for Gay Immigrants

Brooklyn Couple Boost Fight for Green Card Equality

Same-Sex Sabras: Adi Lavy and Tzila Levy celebrated on their wedding day in Brooklyn. Now, the Israeli couple is fighting to get American immigration authorities to accept their union.
Same-Sex Sabras: Adi Lavy and Tzila Levy celebrated on their wedding day in Brooklyn. Now, the Israeli couple is fighting to get American immigration authorities to accept their union.

By JTA

Published May 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A same-sex Israeli couple struggling against U.S. immigration laws are set to become the faces of the fight to extend one of the foundations of immigration policy to gays and lesbians.

Adi Lavy and Tzila Levy have been caught in the bureaucratic red tape of the American immigration system since Lavy, who suffers from a kidney ailment, arrived in the United States in 2011 to seek treatment.

The couple, whose New York marriage is not recognized by the federal government, have been able to stay together during Lavy’s illness and her subsequent return to Israel to care for an ailing parent thanks only to a series of interventions by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). But an estimated 36,000 binational LGBT couples are potentially at risk of separation should one partner be forced to leave the country.

Now the Brooklyn couple’s struggle is being highlighted as part of an effort to extend residency rights commonly granted to straight couples to gays and lesbians.

“Adi fears that she and her wife could be torn apart,” said testimony submitted last month by the Immigration Equality Action Fund to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering a bill proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that would extend residency rights to the foreign-born permanent partners of U.S. citizens.

“She fears being left alone to face her chronic health issues without her primary caregiver and emotional support,” the testimony said. “Without a lasting immigration solution, this family will continue to face a life filled with uncertainty and fear.”

The fund, which is spearheading advocacy for the Uniting American Families Act, selected the couple in part because of their compelling story, said Tom Plummer, the fund’s lawyer. The fund receives more than a thousand calls a year, Plummer said, and he takes on only the dozen or so cases likeliest to “help move the issue” of same sex-family reunification.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.