JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish Agency for Israel became the first Israeli public institution to grant loans to its employees to pay for surrogacy services abroad.
While the grants are available to all employees, its biggest boon is to gay men, who are barred by law from using surrogates in Israel.
It also will be helpful to some of the 450 Jewish Agency employees, such as Israel emissaries, who spend several years living in a Jewish community abroad.
The grant is valued at about $11,000, which is a small portion of the actual cost of surrogacy abroad. Some Israelis who qualify for surrogacy in Israel also turn to services abroad to speed the process, though Israeli health services do not pay for surrogacy services outside of the country.
The Jewish Agency’s Chairman of the Executive, Isaac Herzog, said that the organization is “making a symbolic statement, because it reflects the egalitarian stance of a large organization that is recognizing the right of every man or woman to actualize their wish to be parents and to raise a family, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Jewish Agency is one big family, and all its members are equal.”
Several Israeli high-tech firms already offer this service.
In November, Israel’s Knesset rejected a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to have children by surrogacy.