Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs does far more than navigate the rough terrain of the international arena. In fact, in addition to foreign affairs, the ministry has another specialty that is certain to surprise you—matchmaking. While Israel’s Foreign Ministry employees are laboring for the different issues positioned at the forefront of the country’s foreign policy concerns—the diplomatic struggle against Iran and its nuclear program, the Palestinian ambush against Israel in international institutions, the current efforts to stop the Corona virus in its tracks and more—it is also nurturing relationships between its employees.
Not many are familiar with the fact that there are dozens of couples among Israel’s foreign service workers that were first introduced either in Israel or abroad at one of the country’s many embassies. Some see the ministry not only as the official body that carries out Israel’s foreign policy but also as an incubator for cultivating romantic relationships. The creation of these relationships is often seen as natural because of the challenging nature of being a foreign diplomat. One of its most pressing challenges is sustaining a relationship. It’s not so simple bringing a partner abroad, often forcing them to forfeit their own career aspirations.
Take for instance, Gali Bar’am (50), Israel’s Consul General in Toronto, who is married to the Deputy Consul General, Nissan Admur (54). “We served together in Moscow, Cairo and Washington. Before we officially became a couple, he also held a position in Ankara and now we are in Toronto,” explained Baram. Gali and Nissan initially met in the Foreign Ministry’s cadet course in the summer of 1994, however, their love developed only a few years later while on a joint post in Russia. After 18 years of marriage, they have two children—one boy and one girl.
How do you find working together in the Foreign Ministry? “Foreign service is both a career and a lifestyle. It’s very convenient that we have a mutual understanding regarding the challenges and personal considerations that are attached to this unique career. Foreign service is an amazing adventure for the employee and the family,” she further added.
What are the disadvantages of working together? “There certainly are disadvantages. There is no separation between home and work life. We work around the clock and deal with work often in the middle of night.”
Idit Rosenzweig Abu (41) and Jonathan Rosenzweig (41). Idit is the Deputy Director of Human Rights and International Organization at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Jonathan is a diplomat in the Latin America and Caribbean Division. They first met while serving together in Belgium. They have three children.
What are your feelings about working together in the Foreign Ministry? Idit: “Naturally, we both understand the profession and its challenges, therefore, it’s much easier to understand each other when we come home after a long time and share about our experiences.” Jonathan: “It’s difficult to separate work and family life. We often spend entire weekends discussing the issues dealing with the UN or some diplomatic crisis.”
Mical Philosoph (38) and Emmanuel Nahshon (58). Michal is the Counselor – Deputy Head of the European Parliament Department and Emmanuel is Israel’s Ambassador to Belgium and Luxemburg. They met when Nahshon was the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson and Michal was the spokesperson at Israel’s embassy in Paris. During her tenure there, she was sent to Israel for work-related issues to meet Emmanuel. From that point on, they began to fall in love and held a long-distance relationship for about two years. Emmanuel: “After Michal returned to Israel, we began building both our personal and professional lives together. We are partners in life and career. It’s a very unique and rich experience.”
Ronit (50) and Eitan (53) Ben Dor. Ronit was Director in the Deterrence and Preventive Diplomacy Department Policy Planning Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Eitan heads the human resources department in the Israel’s National Cyber Directorate and worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 25 years. They served several years together in many destinations including Paris, the Baltic states and the UK. They have been married for 30 years and have three grown children. “We have a lot in common and therefore have endless discussions concerning the profession,” they explained. And what’s the disadvantage? “Our careers are dependent on one another. We try to speak to one another candidly and with humility, and together we decide what our priorities are.”
Delphine (45) and Yaron (47) Gamburg. Delphine is Director of Communication and Public Relations at the Embassy of Israel in Paris and Yaron is the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Permanent Delegation of Israel to International Organizations. They have both spent their careers in foreign service for over 20 years living all over the world, including the United States and Russia, and today they reside in Paris. Interestingly, they met prior to beginning their careers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What are the advantages of working together? “There is more of a mutual understanding regarding our work and it is easier to cope with the challenges of traveling often. In contrast to many relationships, one of the partners doesn’t need to make sacrifices by leaving their career. We are always on the same page.”