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Getting Grandma’s Blessing

When I got engaged—to another rabbi, and another woman—my grandmother’s approval didn’t come easy

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Isabel, left, and Roni under the chuppah. (Koala Photography)
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Letting My Daughter Go

When my daughter got married at 20, I worried she was too young. But I was the one who wasn’t ready.

A few years ago, my-sister-the-doctor set an impossible standard when she married another doctor. So much pride! So much naches! I thought everyone in my family would be equally thrilled when I announced I was getting married. What Jewish parents wouldn’t be happy that their daughter was marrying a rabbi? Especially since I’m a rabbi, too.

The proposal happened at Camp JRF, the same Reconstructionist summer camp in the Poconos where our relationship began three years before, when we both joined the staff. As Isabel and I shared the news with the staff and campers who had watched our relationship grow over the years, we were greeted with cheers and hugs. We were even danced around the beit tefillah in the woods, receiving an aliyah that Shabbat to celebrate our engagement.

I was thrilled to share the news with the rest of my friends and family, most of whom wished us mazel tov, eager to hear every detail and be involved with the wedding planning. My sister dug out her veil for me to borrow, and my parents immediately began discussing venues and the guest list.

But the excitement did not extend to one very important person in my life: my grandmother. The fact that I was marrying another rabbi wasn’t as relevant as the fact that I was marrying another woman. Even though my grandmother had told me since I was a little girl that she “loves me up to the sky” and that I could be anything I wanted to be, a lesbian rabbi apparently wasn’t what she had in mind. She refused to accept the news of our engagement, and, more devastatingly for me, she said that she would not be attending our wedding. I imagined the possibility of walking down the aisle without the blessing and presence of my beloved grandmother, and I cried.

As rabbis, Isabel and I had spent years counseling other people about their weddings. We knew both that weddings are an opportunity to celebrate the love, shared values, and personality that each couple cultivates, and that weddings also have a way of bringing important challenges and stresses to the surface. This is true for gay and straight, Jewish and interfaith couples alike. Planning for our own wedding, we were no longer guiding another couple through this process; we were now counseling each other and seeking help from our rabbi. No matter how much experience we had in working with other couples, each step of our own wedding journey taught us volumes about ourselves and the power that engaging deeply with the wedding process has to build a strong foundation for a marriage. By the time we arrived at the chuppah, we had come a long way.

And so had my grandmother.

***

Isabel and I first met in 2005 while studying at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Our paths crossed frequently, whether we were discussing life as rabbinical students, our mutual alma mater—Brandeis University—or celebrating Shabbat and exploring Philadelphia. But we didn’t really know each other until we began working on the senior staff at Camp JRF in 2006. It seemed that the more time we spent together working, talking, or just relaxing in the staff lounge, the more we found ourselves wanting to be around each other and longingly searching out one another from across the room. Our close friends began to notice the sparks between us at the same time we were feeling them ourselves; the energy was palpable. Even though new relationships can be risky and sometimes scary, there is also tremendous safety in those that begin at camp.

Over the next few years, we supported each other through our studies and student jobs. We learned together in and out of the beit midrash. We cooked together, traveled together, and even lived in Israel together. We spent time with each other’s families during holidays or family meals. We were there for each other when life seemed overwhelming and celebrated together through birthdays, ordination, and the little moments that make you smile every day.

We had talked about celebrating a religious marriage—the Reconstructionist movement has officially recognized same-sex couples for two decades—even if civil recognition would have to wait in our home state of Pennsylvania, where same-sex marriage is not yet legal. We were excited to celebrate our relationship in the presence of our family and friends. But even more than that, our wedding was also an occasion to give our loved ones a glimpse into our Jewish lives.

Our experience as rabbis had taught us that weddings, in addition to being wonderful celebrations, are also inevitably fraught with unexpected conundrums: Collectively, we had helped navigate other couples through meddling mothers, competing values, and poor communication. But we had never encountered a couple that had our problem: a family member who wasn’t in the merry-making mood. We knew we could not handle this ourselves; we needed our own rabbi to help us make it through.

As we knew from experience, every couple must find the rabbi who is right for them: one with whom they can be completely open and honest about what they are thinking and feeling, and one they can trust to hold their hands, to listen to them, and to help them to navigate their way through this major life transition. While it is fair to say that we had no shortage of rabbis in our life to choose from, it was still important for us to find one who understood us individually and as a couple, and who could help us to navigate this journey.

It did not take us too long to settle on our close friend Rabbi Rachel Weiss. With Rachel, we talked about our relationship, the issues that were coming up in our families, and the life that we pictured creating together—many of the same questions that I draw upon when working with other couples to help plan their weddings. During our meetings, Isabel and I made decisions about each piece of the ceremony. We rewrote our ketubah to match our values, for instance. We incorporated innovations I had encountered through my work as editor of Ritualwell, as in the language we chose to recite when exchanging rings.

With Rachel’s help, we even created our own kabbalat panim ritual in place of a traditional bedecken. The legacy of the bedecken ceremony is in the biblical story in which Leah was switched out for Rachel on the day she was to wed Jacob; Isabel and I were not interested in performing this ritual “checking” both because it felt too heteronormative and also because we were pretty sure we were both going to show up. Instead, we repurposed this ritual while also connecting to part of the essence of a wedding tisch, which generally serves to relax the couple before the ceremony. In our ritual, we each privately received blessings from our mothers before being danced into the room for a semi-private ceremony with just our mothers, bridal parties, and rabbi (and of course the photographer and videographer). We wanted to honor the moment when we first saw each other on our wedding day while also ritually preparing ourselves for the enormity of the day ahead. For us, carefully thinking through each piece of the wedding and not being afraid to adapt the tradition to better suit our particular situation meant that our ceremony was uniquely ours.

We tried to make decisions that would last way beyond the wedding day. Inspired by our ketubah artwork, Bird Song by Karla Gudeon, and sharing a personal passion for singing, we composed original music for our procession based on Song of Songs 2:10-12: “The time for singing has come. …  Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” When the details or the emotions became too much during our engagement, or we just longed for a peaceful moment together, we would sing our new creation.

Many couples focus on how their wedding reflects their interests or values: They serve vegan food, have an egalitarian ceremony, or pick a venue or favors to match their hobbies. Being “green” and trying to minimize our ecological footprint is a value we share, and we wanted to uphold it throughout our wedding festivities, so we commissioned our chuppah from Isabel’s cousin, an art student who created a canopy made from organic fabric and dyes. It was also important to us that our chuppah not just serve us for that day, so it was designed to be cut in half after the wedding, to create two tallitot with our verse from Song of Songs embroidered on the atarot.

But the issue with my grandmother proved more difficult to resolve and would emerge in somewhat unexpected moments. I remembered shopping with my grandmother and my mother for my sister’s wedding dress nine years before; as I planned my own wedding, I realized that I wasn’t going to have the same experience. My grandmother wasn’t going to be there. I needed to adjust my expectations. This was a realization that came to me time and again and is one that we also talked through with our rabbi. While I needed to adjust my expectations for the planning and day of my wedding, at the same time my grandmother needed to adjust hers for the life that she had pictured for me.

I do not believe that my grandmother’s reaction to my engagement stemmed from homophobia, but rather from the shock that the life that she had planned for her granddaughter was not playing out exactly as she had imagined. It is true that life for same-sex couples can be harder, and much of her fear likely came from not wanting our lives to be difficult. Even though our families knew intellectually that being gay is not a choice, they still hoped that our future lives would be as safe and easy as possible.

Coming out is a process. It was and continues to be a process for me, and it is also a process that my family members went through in their own way. Because it was painful, I sometimes avoided speaking directly with my grandmother about my relationship, not realizing that this may have kept her from having the appropriate time and space she needed to work through her own thoughts and feelings. While it was disappointing not to be able to pick up the phone and share every detail of my wedding planning with her, it was enormously helpful to have the support of my fiancée, my friends, my other family members, and my rabbi. For every couple, identifying a support system through this process and knowing where to turn for which problems makes all the difference in planning not only for the wedding day, but also for the new life ahead.

To my grandmother, the idea of two people of the same sex getting married was entertaining when talking about Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, or endearing when it was the gay men from the salon. Sadly, I was starting to learn that when it came to one’s own family members, the rules sometimes change. It took time for my grandmother to realize that even though I was marrying a woman, I would still have the same opportunities (and challenges) as any other couple. She would still have grandchildren, we would still spend holidays together as a family, and I had indeed found a partner who would love and care for me (as I would for her) through all of the joys and sorrows of life.

I cannot remember now how I mustered the courage to keep moving through the wedding planning, knowing that my grandmother would not be attending, though there were certainly a lot of tears involved. What I do remember is the day when, standing in my dining room, I received a call from our close family friend who had been like an aunt to me since I was born. She told me that she had asked my grandmother to lunch and planned to “have a talk” with her. I was doubtful that this would have any impact, but was nevertheless grateful for the gesture. A few days later, I heard that the conversation went something like this:

“There are too many sad occasions and people who are sick and dying in this world,” my “aunt” told my grandmother. “Roni’s wedding is a chance to celebrate and bring a little joy into the world. She and Isabel are happy. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that and celebrate with her?”

To this day I cannot believe this approach worked, that this simple conversation is all that it took to give my grandmother a new perspective. Maybe there was more to that discussion that was not shared with me. And if this is really all it took, maybe my mom or I should have tried having this conversation earlier. But I actually think that my grandmother needed to come to this in her own manner. The greeting for a couple upon their engagement and upon the news of expecting a child is besha’ah tovah, in good time or the right hour. Maybe we just each needed to be able to digest this news in our own time and in our own way, while also letting go of the notion of the “perfect” plan.

The next thing I knew, I was in the mall with my mom shopping for both mother-of-the-bride and grandmother-of-the-bride dresses. When the wedding day came, a year after we’d announced our engagement, not only was my grandmother sitting in the front row as Isabel and I stood under our custom-made chuppah, but she also lent me her wedding band to use during the ceremony. I don’t know whether she intended this gesture to hold as much significance as I felt. But as Isabel placed my grandmother’s ring on my forefinger, the same ring that my late grandfather placed on my Bubbe’s finger more than 60 years ago, I felt the blessings she was offering, even if they had not been expressed with words. And I knew that the right hour, the sha’ah tovah, had arrived.

***

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Your beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. Mazel tov to you and Isabel, and to the rest of your family. Especially your grandmother.

THE WORD OF GOD IS TRUE. JUDGEMENT WAS SENT ON SODOM AND GOMORRAH. EVERY NATION THAT DISOBEYS THE WORD OF GOD WILL BE JUDGED AND PUNISHED. GOD HAVE MERCY ON THE SINS THAT FILLS OUR LANDS

    Richardhstar says:

    Linda and Ron: You just don’t get the point. Your interpretation of “God’s word” is not the only possible one. God may have written it, but mortal men and women interpret it. Read the second paragraph up from the end again. There is so much hate, sickness, death etc. in this world. Why would you want to ruin a simcha?

      Because it is not a simcha in God’s eyes, it will bring God’s indignation and judgment. The Scriptures are full of prophecy that have come true in fact not interpretation. God gave us this prophecy to prove that His word is also true in regard to our moral and spiritual condition. Facts are independent of interpretion. Archelology has consistenly proven the historical accuracty of the Bible. People can be become so perverse and rebellious to God’s standards that they have come to believe that killing babies is a mother’s right. You can choose to re-interpret what is clearly written under God’s inspiration in the Scriptures, but take care because God will not be mocked. He doesn’t like it when people super impose their will over His. I enourage you to read Psalm 2 to see how God feels about the rebellious. We are to worship and submit to His will because as our Creator He really does know what is best for us. As far as God is concerned, we not free to create our own alternative reality, as so many people want to do in this post-modern world.

        Esther Matut says:

        How very Christian-sounding of you.

          Esther, Being a Christian doesn’t mean ignoring what our blessed Creator condemns. God is the author of reality not you or I.

          It just emphasizes the point that outside of Orthodox Judaism, this type of response and behavior is exhibited mostly by fundamental Christians.

          I am not Christian, I am a Jew and as such will not bother to speak of any other Jews in such a terrible way. This was a beautifully written and genuine article.

          baltasar almudárriz says:

          Idiotic ad feminam attack.

          If the shoe were in the other foot – you would be accusing her of anti-semitism.

          While your reply is quite sexist: What exactly did you prove by my stating the obvious.

          What does this have to do with antisemitism? It has to do with Civil Rights: Get it straight (no pun intended).

        Becky says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to respond. Even if nobody understands or listens. At least you know, you stood up for Kvod Shamayim!!

      Becky says:

      Are you rationalising???? Listen to yourself. I feel so terrible for all of you who are so misguided

    Ben Russell says:

    I agree with you that the word of God is true. From our books we may learn much, and we may better ourselves in many ways. So much is shrouded in mystery, however, and we must therefore interpret it. In the Talmud there is a story of Rabbi Eliezer in a debate with his fellow rabbis. He argues his case, but the other rabbis do not agree with him. Exasperated, he cries out that should he be right, it should be proven by a tree. The tree uproots itself and moves. He continues with other miraculous acts, but the other rabbis still do not agree with him. Finally, he cries out that should he be right, let it be heard from Heaven. A heavenly voice proclaims Rabbi Eliezer to be right. Rabbi Yehoshua quotes Deuteronomy 30:12, saying that the “Torah is not in heaven.” By this and associated verses, we learn that our laws are based on open debate of the Torah here on Earth. You stated your interpretation of the Law in your comment, and your comment currently has 18 votes down compared to 6 votes up. Majority is not in agreement with you. This beautiful article is about the marriage of two Rabbis from the Reconstructionist branch of Judaism. The Reconstructionist branch of Judaism has by majority found that marriages of this nature are perfectly acceptable. You have prophesied that our nations will be judged and destroyed. Let us wait then to see if your prophecy comes true. And should the prophecy you write here come true, on that day, we will come together, and again we will debate the Law on Earth. Again we will decide by majority. While you await the judgement that you prophesied, I can only ask you to treat others with respect. As Richard and this article both said, there is so much sadness in the world, why would you wish to ruin such a happy occasion?

      this is the best, most logical comment here. thank you, you said it much better than I ever could have.

      baltasar almudárriz says:

      It’s too easy to get lost in interpretation.

      Insanity is a state of perpetual interpretation without a referent.

      The secular mind cannot grasp that the Holy Scriptures are from the breath of God. While there some difficult passages because of language differences, the overwhelming majority of Scripture is clear and instructive to how our Creator sees things. Our Creator in whose image we are made has standards just like we do. The Creator explains to us through the example of Israel’s blessings and curings that He is not be triffled with. Proverbs correctly states that “the fear [respect, obedience, awe, submission to] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdeom. To state what the Scriptures clearly teach is not hate speech but a loving a warning you can choose to reject or embrace. Again, I mention that the Bible is factual and prophetic. Ignore it at your own peril.
      Ps. 110:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Proverbs 1:7; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools dispise wisdom and discipline.”Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Ignore God’s word and pay the consequences. King Asa in 2 Chronicles started out fine in honoring the Lord, but wound up going from a peaceful realm to a waring realm when he turned his back on God when he relied on his own thinking instead of trusting God’s help (see 2 Chron. 16:7ff). God’s word clearly denounces same sex marriage or fornication. When one’s desire reject God’s Word and makes their own reality, watch out. God will not be mocked. He must punish sin. So, for those of you who rejoice with the lesbian couple’s marriage, cry for a repenting heart for them and for yourself.

    G-D also denounces hardening one’s heart to poverty and not caring for strangers, orphans, and widows. And these commandments are repeated more frequently than the prohibition on “mishcav zachar”. Where is your righteous indignation on social inequality, homelessness, etc.?

      Your mixing apples and oranges. Two wrongs don’t make a right. One is to live a life according to God’s standards which of course includes being charitable to those in true need. Sexual perversioin is an abomination to God and He clearly warns Israel to avoid it.

I am so proud to call both of these women colleagues. They have proven that the holiness generated by true, honest, loving is enough to change the world–one grandmother at a time.

RJH18 says:

This article was very disturbing. It shows how low we’ve sunk that we confuse our perverted will with that of G-d’s which he clearly outlined several millenia ago when he called a man lying with a man an abomination. Man was created for procreation not self serving perverse lust. And calling oneself a rabbi is the epitome of arrogance. G-d have mercy.

    baltasar almudárriz says:

    I declare myself to be God, G-d, or D-g or The Ultimate Whatevah – and nobody can tell me otherwise under penalty of being called “intolerant”.

Mazal tov! Thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful wedding. I wish you and your wife many happy and healthy years together and, b’sha’ah tovah, children who bring you joy.

Mazaltov – Mazaltov For real Yiddishe Nachus. In this era of Universal freedom of speech anyone can call themselves anything – even a Rabbi. I’m calling myself Superman. May the happy “couple” bring much education and good sense to their followers.

whoffman says:

This is a beautiful story about the power of love — to bring people together, to overcome differences, to make families stronger.

Some commenters look at love and respond with hate. I feel sorry for them, living in a place so dark that the powerful light of the love that Roni describes can’t even reach them. For the rest of us, Roni’s story of her grandmother’s journey is a heartfelt message of hope.

    The Torah declares same sex sexual relations sinful. God’s Word also declares lying, stealing, wrongfully using God’s name, coveting, dishonoring one’s parents, adultry and breaking the Sabbath are also sinful. God does not, nor do I hate the Lesbian Rabbis. What God hates ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE is the sinful acts. While I do not like the part of God’s Word that clearly teaches that God must punish sin, this too is true. The Bible is full of specific prophecy that has and will come true. People can reject the Scriptures and in doing that reject the God of Israel, but as I stated else where they do this at their own souls peril. Instead of seeing what I am writing as hateful or in darkness, try to see things from God’s perspective as given to us in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are objective truth. You can make up any reality you want, but that doesn’t make it real. I am sure Roni has feelings of love for her partner, but feelings are not objective reality. You and others might want to honor these feeling as good and wholesome, but recongnize that God says they’re not. Instead of calling those of us who respect the Creator’s point of view hateful, consider what will happen to your soul if the Torah, Writings, and Prophets are from God. Proverbs 14:12 explains that what may seem right based on your own understanding that conflicts with God’s views, is not only wrong, but ill advised. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Not just physical death, but a lost soul separated from all that is good and true.

Naphtali says:

It is not forbidden in the Torah as far as I know for 2 women to be together. I always though marriage was between a man and woman though. So if you want to live with her it is not a marriage and it is only in your heads that you are married. Could be that I am just behind the times and this is evolution. May one of you grow a penis and may you have a lot of children. Then I will know that I was wrong. If not, I do wish that you will come down to planet earth.

Mazal tov, Isabel and Roni! Wishing you a long life together of ever-deepening joy and love.

What a travesty and perversion of God’s clear instructions and commandments and warnings and examples of judgment!

brian2907 says:

Although lesbianism is not proscribed in the Torah and no one can change their sexual orientation, this grotesque parody of the holy ceremony of nisuin is contemptible. Why could not they not just co-habit rather than put on a burlesque show? Marriage between a man and a woman has been the bedrock of every society since humans first appeared on the Earth and no circumlocutions can make it ‘normal’. What if a man wanted to marry his dog or a woman her cat? Obviously so-called Reconstructionism is an ‘anything goes’ movement, as long as feels good it must be OK! A pity her grandmother didn’t stand up for her principles despite disappointing her grand-daughter.

    Naphtali says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I just wasn’t quite sure how to express it.

      Lisa Liel says:

      Probably a good thing. There was too much garbage in there already. Words would hardly have fit.

Bob Hardin says:

The simplist solution (Occam’s razor) may not always be right, but unnecessary layers are always wrong. The hateful criticisms herein could be dispensed with by eliminating the ancient, unnecessary and totally unlikely concept of an intransigent “God” Or even more ridiculously, “G-d.” Mazel tov.

Jason Carpp says:

We all have choices to make in our lives. Whether or not being lesbian or gay is a choice or not is irrelevant. If people love their partner and want to live with him or her, who the hell is society to tell them no? If a straight couple can marry who they love, I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry who they love. I’d say go for it! Mazel tov!

baltasar almudárriz says:

Clearly- we live in an age of Anything Goes.

jmm64 says:

May our congregations be filled with people like the ones in this article! The gays and lesbians will, hopefully, save our movements ( Reform and Conservative Movements) from declining even further given the high assimilation rate among our children and our grandchildren being raised with very little connection to Judaism or Israel , or simply as Americans with Jewish heritage. Egalitarianism has run its course as well as patrilineal descendent and the acceptance of intermarriage among our children. Hopefully, now the acceptance of gay/lesbian marriage will help to stem the loss of members and the rate of assimilation. However, based on history, it will not probably make any difference and we, the non -Orthodox, will continue to shrink in numbers.

    Lisa Liel says:

    Well, that’s kind of pathetic, isn’t it? I mean, there’s a reason your movements are shrinking. There’s a reason that even fudging the books by decreeing non-Jewish children of Jewish fathers to be counted as Jews hasn’t helped in the long run.

    Maybe you should take a good hard look at why that is. Authentic Judaism is still there, waiting for you, and you don’t have to be a ‘phobe to be Orthodox.

herbcaen says:

If I were your grandmother, I would have skipped the circus and attended a maj jongg game. Your grandmother has our sympathies

herbcaen says:

If I were your grandmother, I would have skipped the circus and attended a maj jongg game. Your grandmother has our sympathies

E. Scott Menter says:

At first blush, with apologies to the author, I found this article rather banal: couple gets married, grandma disapproves, grandma finally comes around. What could be more mundane? And, look at this, they both went to my alma mater, Brandeis. Well, nu, where else would they have gone?

So I do owe a debt of gratitude to the flat-Earthers spewing their superstition-driven insecurities here in the comment section. They helped remind me that even now, 2000 years after Hillel taught, “that which is hateful to you, do not do to others”, we still deny our fellow human beings the basic dignity of being permitted to love whom they would. It is your snarling disgust, dear guardians of the Torah, that helped me realize why this story was too important not to share.

In return, my “Orthodox” friends, I offer you these comments, in the hope they will lead you to recall Hillel’s admonition, and to take to heart the rest of his words as well: go and learn.

    I find it amazing that same attitude that caused our Jewish people to be scattered around the world (see the 5th book of the Torah Ch. 28 – Blessings and Cursing) and suffer persecution while out of the Land as prophesied, can continue to ignore the God’s of Israel’s reality. Our ancestors wound up ignoring God’s prohetic voice and worshipping false gods. They paid the price by being exiled first to Babylon and later to the scattering through out the Gentile world as described in Deut. 28.
    You feel superior to us who rightly are concerned about the One who will ultimately judge our souls and to Whom you also are accountable. You are your own god which is the height of idolatry. Your worship your PC attitude even through it is an abomination to our blessed Creator. What can I say to those who close their minds and hearts thinking they are being loving. Far from it, your false love is destructive because it misleads people to believe that SIN is ok. You are spiritually blind and don’t even know it. Though these words sound harsh, they a warning for you to wake up before you experience the wrath of God. This is actually the most loving thing I can do to one who is running towards the pit of judgment. The Jewish Prophet Daniel wrote in the 12th chapter verses 1-3, that there will be a resurrection of eveyone – some to eternal life (positive) and some to eternal shame and contempt (negative). Which side do you want to be resurrected to? Now you can say to God on the day He judges your soul that you never heard the truth. You are accountable.

      Ben Russell says:

      “Why was the first Temple destroyed? Because of three evil things which prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, bloodshed. But why was the second Temple destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, observance of precepts, and the practice of charity? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that groundless hatred is considered as of even gravity with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed together.” ~ Talmud Yoma 9b.

      You speak of the sins that our ancestors committed and the price we paid, but you speak only of those under the First Temple. The exile we faced with Babylon was nothing compared to the exile we face now. The Talmudic authors realized after only a few hundred years had passed since the destruction of the Second Temple that hatred was equal to the three sins that led to the destruction of the First Temple. It has been over 1000 years since the Rabbis wrote this in the Talmud. It has been close to 2000 years that we’ve spend without a Temple. I think that we can see now that senseless hatred is not equal to the three sins that lead to the destruction of the First Temple, but it is an even greater sin than the three that lead to the destruction of the First Temple.

      You criticize us for what you perceive to be but one of the three sins that lead to the destruction of the First Temple (that sin being immorality), I put forth the argument that we are avoiding the FAR greater sin of senseless hatred. After close to 2000 years of exile, we must now see that we most be constantly vigilant of never falling into senseless hatred again. Now, I personally see nothing sinful of a wedding between two rabbis of the same sex. If, however, I were like you or anyone else who does see something wrong with it, remind yourself that the sin you believe you are witnessing is trivial compared to sin of senseless hate.

      Now, I’m sure that you will defend your stance, claiming that your hatred is not senseless. You may even claim that you do not even “hate.” The Zealots of the first century Judea claimed the same things. In religious fervor they believed that had a bases for their hatred. When Jerusalem was under siege, the Roman general instructed his men to not burn down the Temple. While his soldiers camped outside the city, Zealot factions began to fight amongst themselves. One group even burned all the food supplies in the city in the belief that it would inspire the Jewish people in the city to rise up and fight. When the Romans finally entered the city, it was filled with starving citizens and factions that were more dedicated to killing each other than they were to defeating Rome. They were so blinded by their hatred that fighting occurred even in the Temple. So blinded were they by hatred that they allowed the Temple to burn.

      This is what we are avoiding when we choose universal love over senseless hate.

        It is amazing that you would consider presenting the Torah’s view on same sex relations hateful. What you are doing is calling the Creator and the God inspired authors of Scripture hate mongers and sinful. Read the prohibitions in the Scripture to sexual perversion and go argue with God and the prophets instead of me.

        E. Scott Menter says:

        A fabulous exegesis. Beautiful. While I don’t agree (nor do I think would you, though I could be mistaken) that it is proper to call out homosexuality as “immoral”, your message that the Talmud considers שינאת חינם as more egregious than any sexual misconduct is beautifully expressed. Yashar koach

      Lisa Liel says:

      So much ignorance, so little time. What sin are you talking about? Come on, dude. You’re pretending to be Jewish, and you’re citing chapter and verse from the Bible, but you don’t seem to realize that the book of Daniel is not part of the books of the Prophets. Are you able to cite chapter and verse in Jewish law to tell us what “sin” they’re engaged in? I mean, other than being Reconstructionist in the first place, which is a whole other deal, and obviously not what you’re aiming at.

No matter how you package it, swine can never become kosher.

What a messed up world we live in where 2 “rabbis” rejoice in their abomination.

What’s next- bestiality?

    jmm64 says:

    Not bestiality yet, but marrying more than one person will be next.

    jmm64 says:

    Not bestiality yet, but marrying more than one person will be next.

      Lisa Liel says:

      I know, right? Jacob, King David, all that “marrying more than one person” ickiness. How could they?

pathetic..just pathetic.

RS1961 says:

Wishing Roni and Isabel much love and happiness in life, and mazel tov on their marriage. What a lovely story, and what a gift that the author’s grandmother wound up sharing their joy!

What a disgrace, however, that there are so many homophobic, cruel comments here – even going so far as to question the women’s credentials as Rabbis. “Swine”? “Circus”? “Abomination”? Seriously?? Not coincidentally, these are the same folks who mock Reform Jews – calling us “fakes” and claiming that we are a “threat” to Judaism’s future. Whatever.

Given their staggeringly closed-minded, insulting comments here, let those with such cold hearts accuse me of being a “fake” all they want; if they are the “real deal” I would rather not be tainted by association with these self-righteous cretins. The G-d I believe in would respect and *celebrate*, not condemn or punish, any two Jews for loving one another and building a Jewish life and home together. THAT is the Judaic umbrella under which I’m proud to be included – not the one that is based on the most narrow, exclusionary, anachronistic interpretation of Torah possible.

As a Pennsylvanian, just as the author and her wife are, I hope that my state will soon join the ranks of states that recognize all marriages between eligible, consenting adults – both heterosexual and homosexual – as legal entities. As a Jew, I’m proud to belong to a large congregation whose clergy and membership ranks warmly welcome homosexual families and individuals as a matter of course.

phill2012 says:

Wow, a lot of wind in this article. Way too long and treakly. And Ron Elkin, i agree with your stand in defense of authentic Torah, as opposed to the make believe b.s. of the authoress, but stop the filibuster and don’t be as longwinded as the shmaltzy “rabbi.”
Years ago in my late teens I studied and really liked the Reconstructionist perspective– God as “goodness”, Judaism as a “civilization.” Later in NYC I recall dating the daughter of Mordechai Kaplan”s editor of his monthly magazine, and I also remember hearing the old man speak robustly as a distinguished guest at my hometown shul (Conservative) in Woonsocket, RI– when he was 102 years old!
But that was then; as I see today where “the movement” has gone– far, very far in the gender blurring direction, as well as the directions of pro-abortion, post-ZIonism, and uber-liberalism in general–I am positive that MK is turning in his grave.

The apple has fallen so far from the tree that it’s no longer an apple. My advice, stop hanging on to the hem of Judaism like a whining child, stop all your creative upside down interpretations of Torah, instead start your own religion. Why not create a sect called post-Judaic univeralism? Be brave, make a break! Be like Saul/Paul, JC’s devotee. You don’t want us, normal traditional Jews– and we don’t want you. So in basic street talk– fuck off, go your own way. As for grandma, stop brainwashing her, respect her wishes and leave her be.

Thank you for sharing your life and love with us. My heart aches for the pain you may feel in reading some of the hateful comments below – skip them if you can. Know that there are many who love and support you, always!

paul delano says:

Please, let’s be clear. There is NO such creature as a lesbian ‘rabbi’ in the world of Judiasm which maintains its biblical lineage. ‘Lesbian’ rabbis trace their lineage back to the beginnings of the Feminist movement and for those who accept such political mutations of tradition, fine. The Jewish world at large does not.

Rebecca Cohen says:

If you stretch it far out enough, apparently same sex marriage is a sin. But the Torah’s ideas were thought up long ago, in a less matured world. This is the twenty-first century. Due to advancement in Technology and people, we can not follow the Torah 100%. A long time ago, same sex marriage might have been sinful, but in the modern times it is starting to be ruled ‘okay’. It is not these beautiful peoples’ fault that they followed this path. Had they ignored there love, they would have been miserable. G-d made them that way, no matter what others may say.

    Becky says:

    First of all, God created the world then and still is creating it every single day.
    He the one who created the World from the blueprint the Torah created todays challenges and our bodies, emotions, and instincts. If you would allow your brain to open up a little and listen to your inner self you would see that it only makes sense.

    Secondly, Being a Lesbian is not natural or physical, It is something that people have learned from the media and have grown into or pushed themselves into.

    I pray to God to send wisdom clarity and Tshuvah to all of you that dont know what you are missing out in life living the true Torah way.

MAZAL TOV and BUENOS SHABBADOS!

elie says:

you can do what you want,just don’t say it’s ok with Torah.and you can write what you wish but don’t say it’s written in the Torah. so when you write a book about a boy who’s got 2 fathers,you lie whenyou say that Esther had the courage to say she was jewish,and therefore your’e great to say your’e gay. only the Megilah says the contrary,she had to hide her identity in order to realise the plan to save the Jews.
and in the same way you lie when you say it’s ok for a woman to marry a woman;sorry, a rabbi…

RBKdisqusser says:

SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A society that welcomes homosexuality has an interesting difference from one that is as a rule heterosexual. The difference is that in a homosexualized society, there can never be more than 2 people in a room without the potential for sexual tension and all the psychological ramifications of that tension. With homosexuality there are no opportunities for the spiritual and psychological context of non-sexualized group learning experiences. Even rabbinical school becomes a place to explore sexuality. Obiously readers can fairly surmise that I find this sad, and I do, but even for those who strongly support gay marriage and homosexual lifestyles, it is worth noting and contemplating the loss of non-sexualized social contexts. The acceptance of homosexuality as a norm is not a moral given, even without reference to the Bible.

Ohh , myyy. I am just crying like an idiot right now. Thank you for your lovely story , and may blessings be heaped upon you , your wife , your gramma and your wonderful ” aunt ” . [ Jackasses like Ron Elkin notwhithstanding . Just LOVE those fundamentalists who believe that not only do THEY speak for the deity but that anything written down on a piece of paper by a mere human cannot possibly be mistaken as long as it buttresses their absurd bigotry .] Mazel Tov ladies !

A wonderful story! Thank you for it. I am celebrating my first anniversary this month and this story made me smile.

To those who are spewing hatred and intolerance: Are you proud of that youth suicide rate? You’re perpetuating it. Children are killing themselves because YOU taught them to hate their very nature. 1 in 8 will attempt suicide because of YOUR intolerance. That’s 1 in a minyan… Their blood is on your hands.

112 says:

What a chilul Hashem. I hope everyone realizes that this is not Judaism, and that these two creatures have no share in the world to come, by the book they desecrate every second in all the worst ways possible.

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Getting Grandma’s Blessing

When I got engaged—to another rabbi, and another woman—my grandmother’s approval didn’t come easy