In an attempt to reconcile our feelings of emotional (and ethical) conflict, we wrote the following text for our wedding. We felt that it was important to both affirm and challenge Judaism.
In the course of planning our wedding, my husband Steven and I looked closely at Jewish wedding prayers and blessings. We came face to face with a painful contradiction between our love for our gay and lesbian friends and relatives, and our attachment to Jewish wedding liturgy—which is blatantly heterosexist.
The traditional seven blessings—recited at all Jewish weddings—compare the joy of every bride and groom to the primordial wholeness of AdamAdam is the first human being created by God. Symbolizes: Creation, humankind. and EveEve, according to the book of Genesis, is Adam's wife, the first woman to be created. in the Garden of Eden. These blessings express the idea that each union between a man and a woman brings us closer to the time of Redemption. The blessings conclude with drinking of a full cup of wine to symbolize the joy of union.
We feel that we can only drink a full cup of joy when the union of all lovers is celebrated. We will only feel a sense of wholeness when same-sex couples are also able to enjoy the legal, social, and religious privileges that are being extended to us on this holy day.
We have therefore added an eighth blessing to the traditional seven blessings. Akin to taking ten drops of wine out of our glasses during the PassoverPassover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). sederLit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. when we recite the Ten Plagues (acknowledging that all losses require our empathy), we diminish one full cup of joy in recognition that the world is not yet complete. The added eighth blessing reminds us that as partners in Creation we must strive toward a garden in which there is a place for all loving relationships.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מְקוֹר הַחַיִּים שֶׁהִגִּיעָנוּ לְאַהֲבַת נֶפֶשׁ שֶׁל יוֹנָתָן וְדָוִד. לְחֶסֶד שֶׁל רוּת וְנָעָמִי וּלְאִחוּד שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב וְרָחֵל. מְהֵרָה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ יִשָּׁמַע וְיֵחָגֵג בְּשַׁעֲרֵי עָרֵינוּ קוֹלוֹת כֹּל הָאֲהוּבִים וְשִׁירֵי כָּל הָרֵעוּת. מְהֵרָה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ נִשְׁתֶּה כֻּלָּנוּ מְלֹא הַכּוֹס רִנָּה. בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ אֲדֹנָי מְקוֹר אַהֲבָה
Barukh atah Adonay eloheynu m’kor hakhaim shehigianu l’ahavat nefesh shel Yonatan v’Daveed. L’khesed shel Rut v’Naomi ul’ikhud shel Ya’akov v’Rakhel. M’heyrah Aonday eloheynu yishama v’yeykhageg b’sha’arey areynu kolot kol ha’ahuvim v’shirey kol hareyu. M’heyrah Adonay eloheynu nishtey kulanu m’lo hakos rinah. B’rukha at Adonay m’kor ahavah.
You are blessed, Adonai our God, Source of Life,
who enables us to strive toward the devotion of Jonathan and David,
the life-sharing of RuthAn important female biblical character with her own book. The Book of Ruth, read on Shavuot, tells the story of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their return to Israel. Ruth’s story is often read as the first story of conversion. Ruth is the grandmother of King David. and Naomi,
and the commitment of JacobLit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov. and RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem..
May the time come soon when the voices of all lovers,
the music of all friendships, will rise up to be heard and
celebrated in the gates of our cities.
May the time come soon when we can all drink a full cup of joy.
Blessed are You, Source of Love.
Originally published in LilithIn the midrash (rabbinic story about the Torah story), Lilith is imagined as Adam's first wife. Because she wanted equality, she wss ultimately banished, and God provided Adam with a more obedient wife. Lilith, according to tradition, lives on as a kind of demon, causing men to have wet dreams and stealing infant boys from their cribs. Today, Lilith has been reclaimed by Jewish feminists as a symbol of women's equality., Winter 1995; used by permission of the author.