News and Events

Knesset Member Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu and Partner Tzafrir Realize Dream of Parenthood at Rambam with the Help of Surrogate

Publication Date: 6/5/2024 9:00 AM

Three years ago, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the equal right to use a surrogate for having a child in Israel. Among those who chose to exercise this right were Member of the Knesset Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu and his partner Tzafrir. Together with their surrogate Avital Kress, they embarked on the journey of fulfilling their dream to create a family, their baby born at Rambam earlier this year.

MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu and partner Tzafrir with their daughter. Photography: Courtesy of the family.
MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu and partner Tzafrir with their daughter. Photography: Courtesy of the family.

Before the ruling, MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu, frequently took to the podium to argue against the surrogacy law that, up until two years ago, prohibited him and his partner from having a child in Israel. After a long fought battle, Yorai and his partner, Tzafrir, were able to welcome their daughter, Naomi, into the world and their family, born at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel in February this year.

For years as they watched their friends start families, Yorai and Tzafrir felt this was not their destiny. Tzafrir, a doctoral student, and Yorai, with a career in public service, could not afford the costly surrogacy procedure abroad. “It was a choice between an apartment and a child,” MK Lahav-Hertzanu shared. “At that time, it wasn't feasible, and I felt dejected—family means everything to me, and I didn't know if I could ever have one."

However, in July 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could also have children through surrogacy in Israel. Yorai and Tzafrir were among the first to take advantage of this ruling and embarked on their journey to parenthood. “From our couch at home, we had to choose an egg donor, the baby’s biological mother. But it wasn’t a simple choice – each database we explored had thousands of options,” says Lahav-Hertzanu.

After intense discussions with their family, Yorai and Tzafrir chose a donor. Currently, law does not permit the fertilization of an embryo in Israel and the three had to fly to the United States for this step. Yorai explained, “The requirement to bring in fertilized eggs is ongoing until further legislative action is taken. There is also the problem of issuing birth certificates to same-sex parents, which is still not fully regulated. Despite these issues, progress is being made.”

At this stage, the surrogate mother, Avital Kress entered the picture. Avital works at a shipping company, and her husband Noam is a driver and an active partner in the surrogacy process. They have two children. Meeting through a surrogacy agency, Yorai and Tzafrir gradually warmed up to Avital and Noam. “Giving a couple the opportunity to become parents is incredible,” said Avital. “Creating a human being is like having a superpower. I was even more excited than they were.” Noam added, “One of the most exciting moments in my life was when my children started calling me ‘dad.’ Giving others this opportunity is an amazing feeling.”

The surrogacy revolution in Israel brought two significant changes: the cost is now halved and the surrogate receives a significant sum for their fulfilling their role. While fertilization takes place abroad, Yorai and Tzafrir are able to be actively involved in the pregnancy in Israel. Tzafrir says, “The result is the same, but being part of it here is equally important.”

Nearer to Avital’s due date, both couples toured Rambam’s Picciotto Maternity Department. A birth involving two couples is a different undertaking, and Avital's separation from the baby was approaching. When asked if it would be difficult to give the baby away, Avital replied that is was not. “The baby is not mine in the first place—I’m just taking care of her for nine months. The moment I committed to this, I was dedicated to handing the baby over to her parents and witnessing the creation of a family,” says Kress.

After the hospital tour, the couples returned home to prepare for the birth. As with all births, even at 40 weeks, the arrival came as a surprise. Years of anticipation culminated in a single moment—just as planned, baby Naomi was handed to, Yorai and Tzafrir, right after her birth. At that point, Yorai announced the joyous news on social media. While they received many blessings and well-wishes, they also encountered offensive responses and accusations. Avital commented, “I don't think anyone should be concerned with other people’s relationships, love, and attractions. I know them well, and they deserve to be parents.”

Thanks to Avital, Yorai and Tzafrir, and their daughter are now a family, with new lifelong friends who were an integral part of their journey. Yorai praised Avital saying, “Avital's decision was extraordinary—it's wonderful, noble, and brave. Thanks to her, we're a family.”

Based on Hebrew article published on Mako.