Monday, November 14, 2011

Oy Gay

Orthodox rabbi marries gay couple in historic wedding in DC
For the first time in history, [sic] Steve Greenberg, an openly-gay American rabbi ordained by the Orthodox movement, has officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony.
On Thursday night at Washington DC’s “Historic 6th and I Synagogue,” Greenberg stood under the chupah, a traditional Jewish wedding canopy, as newlyweds Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan tied the knot before some two-hundred guests. Recognizing the unique – and controversial – moment, Greenberg’s voice notably cracked when near the end he stated, “By the power invested in me by the District of Columbia, I now pronounce you married.”
Quick thoughts:
  1. Anyone, Jew or gentile, straight or gay, can choose to be married under a chuppa.
  2. Anyone, Jew or gentile, straight or gay, can choose to wear a kittle at his wedding.
  3. Anyone, Jew or gentile, straight or gay, can choose to be married by a Rabbi.
  4. Anyone, Jew or gentile, straight or gay, can create any wedding liturgy he likes. 
  5. State and federal law should make no distinction between gay and straight weddings.
  6. Religions can make any rules they like (so long as no one gets wounded or killed.)
The above points are inarguable and self-evident. Also inarguable and self-evident is the fact that this wedding was not an Orthodox Jewish wedding. Though, there's nothing "wrong" in a written-in-the-sky way about a gay couple choosing to wed with all of the accouterments of an Orthodox Jewish wedding, the use of such accouterments do not turn the wedding into an Orthodox Jewish wedding. The same, by the way, is true for straight weddings. A ceremony isn't "orthodox" by virtue of the kittle or the chuppa, or the type of yeshiva that ordained the minister, nor should we get hung up on defining the difference between an Orthodox Jewish wedding, and a non-Orthodox Jewish wedding: If the groom gives his bride something of value and a ketubah, I think that's enough in the eyes of Judaism.  What seems essential, though, at least from the perspective of Judaism, is the presence of a bride.

Though I won't say the marriage shown in this video is illegitimate or false or undeserving of legal recognition and common courtesy, I don't think it qualifies as a Jewish wedding. Likely, the grooms don't care. Likely, they were marrying in a style that they recognized and one that made them comfortable, without also claiming that their ceremony was a Jewish one.  If so, fine. If not also fine. Which brings us back to the old, vexing question: Is Judaism a matter of what Rabbis say, or a matter of what Jews do?

See them leave the chupa. I confess to finding it odd that they chose to be escorted out to Od Yisahma, a song that speaks of the happiness shared by a bride and groom,  but again, this is what they're used to, and the style they found meaningful. Who does it hurt? 

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1 comment:

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