At 31 years old, Leon Archimovich and his husband Assaf felt ready to become parents. They could not foresee that they would become parents to two children overnight: a two-week-old baby girl and her two-year-old brother.
In a life-changing decision, Leon, who works as a planner at Nova, and his husband, Assaf, a musician, decided to become a foster family to two siblings in urgent need of a warm, loving family. Intrigued? So were we. So, we sat down with Leon to talk about his career, life, family, and dreams.
Leon, what’s your story?
I was born in Ukraine and moved to Israel as a baby. My mother raised me, and I have the highest admiration for her and how she coped with life as an immigrant and single parent. My mother’s focus was always on doing the right thing, and education was always a top priority for her. So, walking the path she paved, I studied Industrial engineering and then got an MBA- a twofer to satisfy my academic curiosity and my mother’s sense of pride.
I’m happily married to Assaf and together we raise two foster children, who are the apple of our eyes.
I worked at various companies as a planner, but I already knew I wanted to work at Nova for several years. I was interviewed by Nova a few years back, but it didn’t work out then. But I didn’t give up, and a few years later, I noticed another job opening as a planner. I felt determined to join the company, so I applied again, and here I am. Sometimes it is just a matter of timing.
Why did you want to work for Nova?
I was drawn to the technology, to the dynamics, and the people who work here. It looked like a very innovative company from the outside, but now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, I also know Nova cares for us and that the employees’ wellbeing is a top priority. There’s also the gorgeous offices and the fact that the people are great to work and socialize with.
I love the dynamics, the ever-evolving and changing pace of things. The demands from my work change daily, things are very versatile, priorities change all the time, and I am required to be flexible, adjust quickly, and provide great service to my coworkers. A planner does a similar job at any organization, but here at Nova, I get that extra touch of challenge and collaboration, which I love.
You became a family pretty much overnight. How did that happen?
Assaf and I always knew we wanted a large family. We were already in the process of joint-parenting with two lovely women when an unexpected family situation occurred, in which someone had to step in and step up to make sure two children had a stable, loving home.
In most cases, there are nine months of pregnancy, and you have time to get used to the idea of becoming a parent. In our case, we were an ordinary married couple who instantly became a family of four and had to learn to cope with the situation as it evolved. We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family, and they help us a lot.
Despite the challenges this surprise brought us, we feel so fortunate to have become parents to these two lovely children and realize every day that our journey is unique and magical. It is almost unbelievable that during a worldwide pandemic, we became parents to Lenny and Peter. It was simply meant to be!
Let’s go back in time a bit: how did you meet your husband?
Assaf is my first serious relationship, and we met online. At first, we both weren’t sure where this would lead, but rather quickly, we realized we are in love and moved in together.
Being raised in a conservative family, I didn’t tell my mom and stepdad about this until Assaf had proposed.
Hold it right there! You have to tell us about the proposal
We have already been together for a while when our friends announced they were planning to get married in Paris. I told my friends that while we will be in Paris, I intend to propose to Assaf. I thought that either Disneyland or the Eifel Tower would be the perfect setting for my proposal. Little did I know that Assaf was going to beat me to it, as he proposed to me during a romantic trip to the old city of Jerusalem four months before our trip to Paris.
We got married in Vegas and then had a large party with friends and family in Israel.
Is it ok to challenge you a bit? Your story sounds like a walk in the park, while many LGBTQ experience challenges and hardships.
Indeed, in many cases, life as an LGBTQ can be very challenging. But fortunately for Assaf and me – our path was smoother, albeit not always easy. My husband’s family fully accepted him as he was. In my case, it took my parents a little longer to get used to the idea.
I grew up in a conservative house where everything needs to be by the book: finish high school, go to college, be an excellent student (mostly in math), get married, have kids. Do this and that so your mom will be happy. The message that came across is that being different is wrong. As a child in school, there were all kinds of insults from kids around me. So I did the “normative” thing because I didn’t want to be different.
After I graduated high school, I became increasingly aware of my attraction to men- and I chose to live happily, proudly, and openly. However, since my parents are not so open, it was difficult to tell them, and I worried about their reaction. After Assaf proposed, I realized it was time to deal with this. I told my aunt and uncle that I am gay, and they supported me wholeheartedly. Then they joined me when I shared this with my mom. There was a bit of drama there, but at the end of the day, she said she would love me and support me no matter what.
Today, in a way, I know I lived up to all my parents’ expectations: I have an academic education, I have a career in a great hi-tech company, I’m happily married with two kids and a dog. What more could my mom want?
I feel that I lead a very normal life and society accepts me, my family, and my life choices.
What do your colleagues not know about you?
I used to be a modern dancer, and I was part of a performing dance company, and we even traveled abroad together. Dancing fills my soul. I know it is a typecast, being a gay dancer, but I assure you that not every dancer is gay, and not every gay is a dancer 😊
What is your parenting motto?
I teach my children it is ok to be different as much as it is ok to belong. I want them never to fear saying what they think and authentically following their hearts, beliefs, and passions. I wasn’t raised like this, and therefore, it is vital for me to raise them in a pluralistic and diverse environment, where they know they have the choice to be who they want to be.
Assaf and I are complete opposites in so many ways. I love sports, he loves the couch, I am a morning person, he is a night owl, I work in the hi-tech industry while he is a musician. And we have a different parenting style.
While we were both most ready to become parents I am the more responsible parent, the caretaker, in charge of setting limits, responsible for all the bureaucratic aspects and Assaf is the one that spoils the kids, hugs them and allows a bit of release from the limits.
So the kids get the best of both worlds; love, warmth, hugs, proper upbringing, education, everything they need on the material level and also a healthy routine, which, unfortunately, they didn’t have in their previous home.
The kids are always in my mind and heart and I find myself occupied throughout the day thinking about their everyday needs. Being a parent is a tedious mission and sometimes it is even hard. But then we get a hug from Peter or a smile from Lenny and our hearts melt. Suddenly all the hardship simply disappears.
A message to the world…
Live freely, authentically and make sure to make a significant contribution to society and to the world.