On the eve of her husband’s wedding, Eliza Cohen found herself without a choice: She was going to have a black wedding.
She had booked a small apartment in Tel Aviv for her first ever Israeli wedding in February, but as soon as she arrived, she was told by the receptionist that her apartment would not be suitable for the event.
Cohen, who is black, had only recently started dating a white man named Joshua Keren, who was also from New York City.
Keren had just recently relocated from Brooklyn to Tel Aviv and was eager to have the wedding.
But Cohen’s apartment did not meet his standards.
He was not allowed to bring his own catering or music.
And, like most of the guests, Cohen was not invited to any special parties, including a reception for the wedding guests.
So Cohen found a friend to help her organize the event: a black couple named Alex and Michael.
They were the first two people to meet Keren in Israel and had arranged to meet him in the city after he returned from a recent trip to New York.
The two began booking hotel rooms for the couple.
On the first day, Cohen had to pick out a room from a group of 30 people.
A week later, they had to decide whether to stay in a single room or a double room.
They settled on a single bedroom.
On the first night, Keren and Cohen were joined by other guests for a party at the hotel.
Kerens wife, Dalia, and her husband, David, were the only guests present, but Keren was also invited to dinner at the restaurant in their room.
Cohen said that it felt weird to be the only black person in a room with white people, but after that, she couldn’t stop thinking about the black couple.
“It was hard to believe we were going to be doing this,” Cohen said.
Keren said that he didn’t feel welcome in the hotel room.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
But Keren said he was also surprised by the fact that, despite being the first black couple to attend a Jewish wedding in the country, the reception was not racially integrated.
Cohens parents, who were in the United States for a wedding, were not invited and were told that they would have to wait until the next day.
She and her parents had to wait for more than three hours in line at the reception, where the guests of honor were seated at a table.
The reception had to be rescheduled because the reception coordinator, who has worked for the hotel for a while, had to cancel the wedding, Keren said.
The next day, after the first couple returned from their trip to the United State, the same reception coordinator told Cohen that the guests would not have to be seated together.
“She said we had to sit separately,” Cohen recalled.
“It was an embarrassment.”
The next morning, Cohen went to the reception and saw that she was the only person seated at the table.
She also saw that the people of honor who were seated were not allowed in.
“We were shocked that we had not been given any room, but we were told it was our responsibility to pay the bill,” Cohen explained.
Cooper said that after she and Keren arrived in Tel-Aviv, she had to make arrangements to find another room for the second time.
She had to go to the booking office, where she was asked to fill out a form stating that she could not rent an apartment with an unknown number of guests.
When Cohen had her form completed, the manager told her that she had been refused an apartment because she was black.
After waiting nearly two weeks, Cohen finally got an apartment.
She said she was disappointed by the way the hotel management handled the situation.
“They were very rude and told me to get out of the country,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Mail.
“The manager was so condescending and did not listen to me.”
When Cohen returned to New Jersey to return to her family, the family contacted the local police.
“There were only a few black people in my apartment,” she said.
“My parents told me that I would not even get an apartment voucher from the hotel.”
The couple plans to file a complaint with the New Jersey Civil Rights Commission.
Kren said that they were given a voucher, but did not receive a refund, and that they have yet to receive the voucher.