Monday, May 07, 2007

An Ancient Coda to My 21st-Century Divorce

An Ancient Coda to My 21st-Century Divorce - New York Times

This is a sad story. It's about a woman, a smart, hip Jewish woman, who made a bad marriage to a smart hip, Jewish, man. They were a mismatch from the beginning. And also he turned out to be gay.

Eventually, they divorced - which brought them both a measure of happiness. He found a husband and they adopted two kids. She met another nice Jewish man and arranged to marry him.

The rabbi retained for the second wedding advised the smart, hip Jewish woman to get a get, so she dutifully made arrangements to meet her ex-husband in front of two witnesses and a second Rabbi for the ritual closure. This is what happened next:

When my ex-husband left to feed the meter, the rabbi fixed me with a stare and asked the question that clearly had been bothering him since we arrived:

“Who was that other man who came with you?”

Since I wasn’t sure of the official Orthodox stance on homosexuality, I said it was my ex-husband’s friend.

“And whose children were those?” I didn’t like where this was going.

I asked if this would affect the get process. He said it would not, so I admitted that my ex-husband was gay, and the other man was his partner, and those were their children.

The two ancient witnesses looked at each other. And then the rabbi said flatly, “I think that’s sick.”

“It’s not sick,” I said. “They’re very happy.”

In an unoriginal attempt at a joke, the rabbi said, “Which one is the man?”

“They’re both men,” I said. “They’re both very good men.”

When my ex-husband came back into the room, I felt ill. I had flown cross-country and paid $500 in cash so three old holy men could sit in judgment of him. And the irony was, he was the practicing Jew, not I.

Once upon a time this would have made me angry, as I expect many of you are angry. Today it made me sad. Just sad. Sad that the rabbi needed to be a jerk. Sad that he missed a chance to put a pleasant face on my religion and my culture. Sad that he (likely) thought he wasn't being a jerk. Sad that people have all kinds of tzurus that they don't deserve, like the tzurus of bad choices (the woman who married a homosexual) and the tzurus of no choices (like being gay, and subjected, therefore, to the judgment of fanatics.)

Just sad.

Hat-tip: Defunct Devarim

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