Friday, May 22, 2015

Getting Ready to Celebrate a New Jewish Family: Starring Rachie and Liz

I have written from time to time about various aspects of being a religiously observant Jewish family and how we are inclusive of all members of our Jewish community. I have shared observations from time to time about the trajectory of our Jewish community in its comfort level of welcoming our LGBTQ Members, specifically in our more Orthodox part of the continuum of all that we are. I have gotten personal from time to time in terms of our family and the interfacing of these factors, both in our thinking and in the reality of who we are.

And, lo and behold, in two weeks, our beautiful and intelligent (I have to say that, because I do not want my children to think I am superficial) daughter Rachie will be married to her beloved, our daughter-in-law-to-be, the also beautiful and intelligent (see above!) Liz. How am I feeling you ask? So let me share a bit.

I am overjoyed that our daughter has found the love of her life. We absolutely LOVE Liz and are as confident as one dare be that she and Rachie will build a truly beautiful Jewish home (Bayit Ne’eman) for all of Israel – that is, all of the Jewish community who agree to be part of their amazing lives. We are proud of the many accomplishments these remarkable young ladies have already achieved in their young years. We are awed by their grace, their poise and their ethical fiber. In short, we are grateful to HaShem for the guidance and presence in all of our lives that have brought us to this joyful moment. And as a bonus, I already LOVE Liz’s family. In all of this, I am probably (and hopefully) not all that different than so many other moms of a beloved daughter who is getting married.

That being said, I am acutely aware of how this is playing quite differently in the context of our Halachically observant lives lived mostly within the frame of our larger Orthodox community. I must say that the vast majority of people have been incredible and want to give Hakarat HaTov to our friends, shuls, community members and so many who have wished us well and rejoiced with us to the degree that they are able. I also want to acknowledge that those who will be sharing this event with us will differ somewhat than was the case for our eldest daughter, Yoella, and her wedding to our amazing son-in-law Jeremy (you still get to be my favorite son-in-law and that status does not appear to be threatened in any way LOL).

Here is what is NOT happening. There will NOT be hundreds of guests. Now granted, a lot of this has to do with the fact that the venue is at some retreat in Western Massachusetts, where Rachie and Liz’s community is close by, so ALL of the families are traveling many miles (and my hippyesque daughter in her hippyesque community did not want that big wedding with hundreds of guests). Think destination wedding! Still, I cannot help but wonder after driving three plus hours each way to more than a few weddings if this might have played out a bit differently for some more of our friends who are not coming if … but I will just wonder and leave it at that. Also, I am not getting so many people asking “how are the wedding preparations going?” Maybe I am just being needlessly hyper-sensitive but in the oft chance this is not the case, PLEASE everyone, ask … any friend or relative who is planning such an affair for their healthy amazing child, it does mean something! It means a lot!

We are so grateful for the many friends and family who will be celebrating with us and I am particularly thankful for our wonderful ESHEL family who will be with us as we all continue to navigate these waters of what it means to have children who are religiously observant and LGBTQ. We will be aware of friends and relatives who elected not to be part of this (not because of distance) and will respect that and hope that they can find it in their hearts to respect us as well. I am especially grateful (and you know who you are) to those friends and relatives with whom I have had extensive conversations about the particular nature of this wedding and commitment ceremony and their honesty in sharing that they wish us well but could not take part. For any who have dismissed us (and there were a few), and this must be said, I hope that as the years go on and others in your world (and it will happen!) come to terms with how God chose to make them, you will remember us and come to us for advice and support because we will be there for you!

Yes, we are in a celebratory mood; don’t forget that. However, just as we break the glass under the Chupah (wedding canopy) to recall the destruction of the Temple and the fracture that created in our lives as a Jewish people, we also recall the fracturing in our world today. Part of that fracturing for us as a family with members who are LGBTQ is the loss of some relationships. Yet, we simultaneously celebrate those new ones that have come our way. As I always say it is indeed a matter of balance. It is the Jewish way to consider what is amiss in the midst of great joy, so allow me this moment to do that.

So, when you see me, please by all means, ASK are we excited? YES! Are we happy for our daughter? YES! How are arrangements for this weekend Shabbaton and Wedding/Commitment Ceremony going? Well… I THINK we are where we need to be two weeks ahead of time. I certainly hope so! Or as Liz’s mom, Deb says, we will know the Monday after!!!


  1. It is not even one and a half hours since the posting went up and I have already received so many comments. BTW, aren't we all (those of us in Jewish spaces) supposed to be getting ready for a three day Chag/Holiday! Anyway, Rachie tells me that a friend of hers explained that less people do ask her and her partner about their lives together... so I am not imagining this phenomenon (not that I thought I was but you know, give everyone the benefit of the doubt nd all!). SO PLEASE make sure you ask those of us who are in relationships with those of the same gender and those of us who are parents of these young people who are navigating this world how we are doing. We need and want you to.... it says YOU SEE US!

  2. Congratulations to all at this most wonderful time of all of your lives. How blessed you are to be receiving such a magnificent new daughter into your family fold. Thank you for being pioneers and for having such grace and courage.

  3. Thank you for this important message. As a non relative, I can totally vouch for the truth of your description of both brides as being beautiful, smart and having utter moral clarity and conviction. If there were ever a union to celebrate with unadulterated joy, this is the one. I cannot wait to dance with you all!