Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our Big Gay Jewish Wedding

A couple of years ago we were up on the bimah at our synagogue in honor of our tenth anniversary. Our rabbi identified us as two of her favorite people and congratulated us, then added, "and one of these days, they'll get married." or words to that effect. She announced to the entire congregation that these two old gals who persist in loving each other year in and year out should do something Jewishly official about it.  

I think we were both stunned and delighted. In a society in which religious folk often denigrate our very existence, to have one's clergy person say such a thing is a revelation. We thought about it. A lot. Finally, nearly two years later, we told her that we did, indeed, want a wedding. And so, on December 3, 2011, we are going to stand on the bimah again, this time under a chuppah, and she will marry us. We will circle each other, and make vows in Hebrew and English and exchange rings (the ones we have always worn) and she will wrap us together in our talitot while our friends watch and celebrate with us. 

We live in a state where that is not allowed civilly, and to be able marry in our religion is a wonderful paradox. Many arguments I have heard against "gay" marriage is that it would impose itself on religions that oppose itl. Well, guys, how about the idea that the state is also imposing something on our religion by denying us the right to legal marriage?  Toss that one around for a bit, if you will.

We will not have a marriage license, but we will have a marriage contract. The picture at the top of this blog is our Ketubah. The star is formed from the Hebrew words "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li" which means "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." The contract itself appears in the top right niche of the star and also in the bottom left one, one in Hebrew and the other in English. It will be signed by the rabbi, by us and by the two friends we have asked to be our witnesses, but I think we may also ask anyone who would like to sign it to do so in the wide space provided at the bottom. Judaism considers it a mitzvah to celebrate with the bride and groom, and that extends also, in Reform Judaism, to the bride and bride as well. 

We have our wedding clothes, we have our reception (oneg) figured out and arranged for, we have our Ketubah and our rings and the glasses we will break, and the silver Kiddush cups we will drink the two toasts from during the ceremony all polished and ready. We have answered the extensive questions the rabbi asked us in preparation. We have invited our friends and family to join us. We are ready.

I don't think it will change a thing in our lives. We are committed to each other for life and have been since day one. We know each other well and have already worked out most of the kinks and conflicts. We even have a reset button we invoke when things start careening out of whack. We have navigated with each other through stormy waters and calms, in sickness and in health. We are aging well together and accepting of each others' foibles and follies.  What our wedding does is make a statement to our community that we are in this for the long haul and we are in this as a Jewish household, we with them, and they with us, as part of the tribe. It means exactly the same thing to us as it would to a heterosexual couple. That's just the point. 

It's not a gay marriage, it's just plain marriage. Same old institution, just a little broader and more welcoming. Mazel tov!

Image credit: MP Artworks Ketubah Studio