My Big Jewish Lesbian Vegan Wedding 6/26/15

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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to the wedding of a childhood friend of my son. She was marrying a woman she had met in college during a course in Feminist Theory and Criticism. They became loser while sitting on the campus safety awareness committee. After some long distance relationshipping, they started dating and moved in with each other about a year ago. I have been looking forward to this wedding for months ever since we got the “save the date” announcement.

It was a milestone for me in JLVWedding-3that I had never been to a Jewish wedding and had always wanted to go to one. Bride A (as I will call her) was Jewish and a woman of deep faith. She is now in rabbinical school. Bride B, my son’s friend, converted to Judaism for her despite being raised lightly pagan. It was NOT a coincidence that the wedding took place on the summer solstice. There was even a solstice altar set up just outside the ceremony area to honor that part of her heritage.

Bride A was dressed in a homemade ivory linen dress with pink flowers in her hair to match her cateye vintage style glasses. Bride B wore gray slacks with a matching vest over a light blue shirt and pink tie. Over her shortly cropped hair she wore a large leaf reminiscent of a yarmulka. The male members of wedding party (the entire wedding party was described as Friends of Honor as oppose to the more common groomsman/bridesmaid designations) had full beards and wore suspenders making them look like hipster artisanal pickle merchants. Even the band had a certain turn of the century look. In some respects the whole event had the vibe of a community theater production of Yentl.

The wedding program included lots of little notes on the elements and traditions of a Judaic wedding which were very helpful. I could

tell that some portions of the ceremony were being altered to accommodate the fact that two women were being married rather than a man and a woman. There was prayer after prayer in both Yiddish and English. There were two large artistically rendered marriage contracts which included their vows. There was a lot of laughing with a touch of tears.

The ceremJLVWedding-2ony was outdoors in a small park with a gorgeous old stone building on the grounds but except for the food service line, all the events were outdoors or underneath a tent. Predicted thunderstorms never arrived and weather stayed clear if June hot. Restroom facilities were two single occupancy bathrooms in the building which, as the program declared, had been “liberated from the gender binary.”

The guests were the usual mix of older relatives, mostly from Bride B’s side since the ceremony was in her hometown, and college friends of the brides. They were dressed in a variety of styles ranging from traditional to formal to casual. One person had both a beard and a dress and I told my wife I’d be disappointed if there hadn’t been.JLVWedding-6

As with all weddings, the reception is where the heavy partying began. Fortunately beer and wine are vegan and were available in abundance. In addition to red and white wine there were two brands of craft brews and PBR available. This gave my son, a professional brewer, a great opportunity for conversational gambits with the guests his age.

The food, as I feared, was the greatest disappointment. In anticipation, I had taken my family out for a Father’s Day barbecue lunch just in case I wasn’t going to get a full meal. The hors d’oeuvres were tasty but disappeared quickly. I was not quick enough to get the tofu spring rolls but the corn fritters and the potato knishes were delish. The main dishes were bland and, as the joke goes, the portions were small too. The best dish was some parpadelle with basil, spinach, artichoke and zucchini. The wild mushroom and tarragon seitan (whatever that is) was also fairly tasty. But overall, I thought a family of vegetarians could have found a more adventurous caterer.

For the wedding reception the band quickly ran through a whirlwind of the presumably standard traditions including ring dances and chair dances and jumping rope. It was all a bit confusing to me but the largely Jewish guest roster seemed to go at them with great gusto.

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As with most weddings, the toasts from the fathers were very touching. The father of Bride A was delighted to be gaining a future lawyer as a family member and made a plea that Bride B give corporate mergers a chance for decade or so before going into public advocacy. Father B waxed nostalgic over the childhood memories of teaching Bride B which sports teams to follow and why. (I was told that her vest was lined with silk fabric covered in Orioles logos.) The deepest divisions amongst the families and guest were opposing loyalties to Red Sox, Yankees, or Orioles, although I suspect plenty of Phillies fans were in the crowd as well.

I’ve been to a wide variety of weddings but this one was definitely one of the most festive I have ever been to. It was a day full of prayers. And food. And dancing.

And love.

 

 

 

21 Responses

  1. It seems their wedding band is semi-famous in klezmer music circles.

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  2. I’ve been to a wide variety of weddings but this one was definitely one of the most festive I have ever been to. It was a day full of prayers. And food. And dancing.
    And love.

    Sounds fun (except for the food). Do you suppose there would have been fewer prayers, food, dancing, and love if the state legislature had decided to officially recognize their relationship as a civil union rather than a “marriage”?

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    • Do you suppose there would have been fewer prayers, food, dancing, and love if the state legislature had decided to officially recognize their relationship as a civil union rather than a “marriage”?

      It definitely would have been different and I think partly because of the earnestness of the wedding ceremony itself. Each bride had prepared a ketubah or marriage contract, traditionally only written by the groom. The reading of them was a very moving part of the ceremony, equivalent to the Christian reciting of vows. Even though that is part of the religious part of the ceremony, it wouldn’t have carried the same weight if it had resulted in only a civil union.

      My cousin and her wife had a civil union ceremony in Delaware because this was before Maryland had approved SSM by referendum. They had a very lovely reception with all the trappings, but without the ceremony it felt missing something. Delaware has since upgraded all civil unions to full marriages.

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      • yello:

        Even though that is part of the religious part of the ceremony, it wouldn’t have carried the same weight if it had resulted in only a civil union.

        Why? Why do the feelings of a majority of strangers in a state legislature matter in the slightest to a ceremony celebrating the love and spirituality that two people might feel for each other?

        They had a very lovely reception with all the trappings, but without the ceremony…

        Why couldn’t they have had the same kind of religious ceremony (Jewish or otherwise) that you described above? Did the state of Delaware really have a law making it illegal for a religious (or any other kind of private) institution to perform a ceremony that they call a “marriage”?

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        • Ah, gotta love progressive’s intellectual courage and willingness to entertain disagreement.

          http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2015/06/gay_marriage_anthony_kennedy_o.html#incart_2box_opinion

          As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will very strictly limit op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage.

          These unions are now the law of the land. And we will not publish such letters and op-Eds any more than we would publish those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic.

          On the bright side, that is at least somewhat more, er, liberal than what they originally wrote:

          As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will no longer accept, nor will it print, op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage

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        • Did the state of Delaware really have a law making it illegal for a religious (or any other kind of private) institution to perform a ceremony that they call a “marriage”?

          Words have meaning. It sure wouldn’t make sense to have a “marriage” ceremony and then only end up with a civil union. My cousin did say that the language of the civil union ceremony was surprisingly touching. Here is a sample ceremony.

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        • yello:

          Words have meaning.

          Irony thy name is yello! That is truly rich. (Hat tip, A. Scalia)

          It sure wouldn’t make sense to have a “marriage” ceremony and then only end up with a civil union.

          Again, why? In your description of the ceremony you attended last week, you mentioned lots of things that made the event meaningful. You mentioned the solstice, the religious themes, the prayers, the reading of the ketubah, and you touchingly ended with the simple but most meaningful presence of all, love. Yet at no point did you mention the approval of a majority of Maryland’s legislators. And that isn’t all that surprising since the state’s imprimatur of “marriage” on a relationship can only provide legal benefits (and restrictions), not emotional, philosophical or religious meaning. It would have been extremely out of place had you written “It was a day full of prayers. And food. And dancing. And no estate tax.”

          If tomorrow I found out that the priest who performed my marriage was not in fact licensed by the state of New Jersey to do so, and so I have never in fact been legally married, it would precipitate some legal hassles for sure, but it wouldn’t detract one iota from the commitment and relationship I have with my wife, nor would it alter the personal nature and meaning of the ceremony and celebration we had ‘lo those many years ago in any way at all.

          Perhaps that is because I am not a progressive, and so I do not deify the state. I care what the state thinks about things only to the extent that it has the power to put me in jail or take my money, not because it is a moral authority the approval of which I need in order to find personal fulfillment. To me the idea that a ceremony ostensibly about celebrating the love and commitment of two (or more!) people to each other requires the imprimatur of the state in order to carry personal meaning is simply inexplicable. Unless one views the state as God.

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        • yello:

          What do you think about this marriage ceremony?

          The Nazis prohibited weddings, even among Poles. If a bride and groom were discovered, the entire wedding party would be arrested and murdered as a warning to not even think about love.

          “Yet, even in the camps, my parents defied that edict,” Clila Bau said. “There, a man and woman were forbidden to touch, let alone kiss. If caught by the Germans, a kiss of love could become the kiss of death.”

          The couple met on a cloudy day when Joseph was ordered to create a sun-exposed blueprint for Amon Goeth, the concentration camp’s commandant. Rebecca, who was fluent in German and had skills as a manicurist, was Goeth’s secretary. “Perhaps you can be my sun,” Joseph flirted, bringing a moment of laughter. After knowing Rebecca a little more than two months, Joseph smuggled himself into the women’s section of the camp, where his mother blessed and married the couple.

          Was this marriage somehow less meaningful in your eyes simply because it wasn’t approved by the powers that be? Does it make no sense to call it a marriage simply because it wasn’t recognized by the state as such? To me the fact that the marriage was performed in the face of specific disapproval gives it even more meaning than it otherwise would.

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        • Battle of the special interest groups:

          A coalition of African-American pastors vowed this week that there will be massive civil disobedience if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in a ruling on the matter expected this month.

          At a press conference in Memphis, Tennessee, members of the Coalition of African-American Pastors joined Christian ministers at the Church of God in Christ’s historic Mason Temple to warn the Obama administration to prepare for massive civil disobedience among pastors and clergy if state bans on gay marriage are deemed unconstitutional.

          I look forward to this scenario: Churches that won’t toe the line on SSM eventually have their tax-exempt status revoked. Africa-American churches then sue the government for discrimination arguing that it has a disparate impact on blacks. Heh.

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  3. I hope they get to continue to practice their faith. Practice. not pay lip-service too. I’m not hopefully they will.

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    • nova:

      I hope they get to continue to practice their faith. Practice. not pay lip-service too. I’m not hopefully they will.

      The only way I see the tax exemption not disappearing is if it is a Muslim group challenging it. If it is brought by a catholic church, the court will eventually tell them to FO.

      I also would put short odds on catholic priests who refuse to conduct SSM ceremonies losing their state licenses to marry anyone.

      And I wouldn’t put any stock into any assurances on this front that Kennedy might have given in his opinion. Recall that in Windsor he also assured us that states would still retain the right to define marriage as they saw fit. Disingenuousness, thy name is Justice Kennedy.

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      • I suspect that if you handed a copy of the constitution to 1000 random non-lawyers on the street and asked them to read it and point out where a right to SSM was laid out, 99% of them would be unable to do so. Which puts me in mind of George Orwell. Apparently that there are some constitutional claims that are so absurd only a lawyer could believe them.

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  4. The goal is is to drive religion from the public square.

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  5. Scott, at times you can be a real ass.

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  6. Classy.

    Shut up! she argued.

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  7. Shut up! she argued.

    Did I say that?

    I don’t even have any idea what comment she is referring to

    Pretty much all of them on this thread.

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    • Mich:

      Pretty much all of them on this thread.

      Like what? I mean, I’m happy to consider objections to things I’ve written, but middle school ad hominems don’t tell us much worthwhile.

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  8. I’ve added a whole bunch of photos from the wedding to my Flickr site.

    IMG_3776

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