On Hanukkah we remember the miracles that God wrought in those days at that time.This Hanukkah I think about the miracles I witnessed in the past weeks whichculminated in a newly formed family returning home to Israel to light the sixth candle.
Before Thanksgiving my fourth cousin many times removed called with a strange request.Could I serve as a foster Savta(grandma)?He had a newly born patient—created through the miracle of medical technology.He was birthed by a surrogate with an egg fertilized by one of the two dads awaiting his birth.The new Israeli dads had waited for years for their child. As they gazed on their amazing son they were filled with wonder and gratitude and joy that after all these years, they finally had their son. Miracle #1.
Miracle #2 was accidentally selecting a pediatrician who not only examined the baby but cared for the dads ensuring they had all the equipment they needed, that they were connected with people who would provide love and comfort and a little reassurance.And then the pediatrician invited them to Thanksgiving, to his son's Bar Mitzvah and party, and to his home to make latkes with his family.His farewell to the dads was to accompany them to the airport at 6:00 am to make sure that they had enough hands to check in and they were able to clear security with the formula needed for the long flights home to Israel.
Miracle #3.The translator that came to the hospital when the baby was born was a Russian born Israeli now living in Minneapolis.She, too, extended herself far beyond her job and invited the new family to her home for a Hanukkah party with her family and friends.
Miracle #4.To become a family, the surrogate mom had to surrender her rights and the dads had to be listed on a new birth certificate.That required an appearance in family court. In the courtroom the dads heard their Israeli names pronounced correctly and then heard the referee's first name—a very obvious Israeli name.Following the proceedings, she asked to hold the baby and take a picture.What could have been a frightening bureaucratic procedure in a foreign land turned into another warm welcome with hugs all around.
Miracle #5.The new baby had to be converted to go home to Israel.The dads asked a local rabbi to perform the conversion. He lovingly performed the ritual accompanied in song by other members of the synagogue staff. More open arms and warm hugs for the new family.
Miracle #6.In order to leave the country, the baby had to have his own U.S. passport. He can't smile in the passport photo, he has to have his eyes open, and he has to face the camera straight on.Finally after endless tries, there was one photo that met all the necessary criteria. The dads applied for the passport and received it the day before their flight home to Israel.
Miracle #7.Theses dads, both sons of Holocaust survivors, knew nothing about our community and were fearful they would encounter homophobia.But from the hospital staff to the hotel staff to the community members they met, they experienced only warmth and acceptance.It's a miracle for all of us in Minnesota to realize how much life has changed for the better in recent years.
Miracle #8.That's the miracle for my family.We were fortunate enough to spend time with the dads and their son and watch him grow in the two weeks we saw him. I watched how awkward they were the first time they tried to bathe him, but by the end of the first week, they were professional infant bathers.They learned to change a diaper in record time, distinguish between his different cries, and even created a new Hebrew verb, barbep—to burp.When I visit them at their home in ten weeks, I know I will relive all these miracles as they retell their story.