I nervously asked my stepdaughter, Kyla, if she and her fiancé, Sarah, would be having any religious rituals in their wedding. Why “nervously”? Because the only other time I brought up religion, there seemed to be some discord and I didn’t want to add any angst. I knew they were being married by a female Muslim friend who became a minister for the occasion. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t know about circling and the seven blessings, but I didn’t want to push anything on them.
When my mom asked what she could give the brides, I suggested a Ketubah (a non-binding Jewish wedding contract). My mother had given Kyla’s dad and me our beautiful Ketubah – which actually Kyla and her sister, my husband’s other daughter, Arielle, signed as “junior witnesses.” As has become common practice, the ketubah is a piece of art now framed and hanging on our wall. Robert and I don’t know what it says – though he can read the Hebrew and I cannot – but we know what it means. It is a contract of commitment.
I hadn’t asked about a Ketubah, but I thought it was benign enough that they would accept the gift. Why did I need a benign gift? Because I was afraid to bring up the religion issue. However, Kyla and Sarah wanted one, so I went to the store in Los Angeles (http://www.galleryjudaica.com) where my mom had purchased ours 19 years ago. The staff were very excited that they had their first second generation wedding ever.
I took my friend Tom with me. As a gay Catholic who has lived in LA for over twenty years, and may know more about Judaism than me– and who has impeccable taste– I thought he’d bring a certain sensitivity that I might not naturally possess.
The store personnel could not have been lovelier. I was a little awkward, thinking there might be judgment, but it turns out the woman who helped us also had a lesbian daughter who lived in Park Slope who married her partner. Maybe Kyla and Sarah even knew them, but we refrained from Jewish geography. She took time showing us the many choices of ketubot (plural of “ketubah“), and we were surprised by how they accepted so readily that this would be for two brides. That was an important part of the information we shared because we would need special text and not all designers were flexible enough to cover both intermarriage and two women.
We found a ketubah that reminded us of the wedding invitation and we picked out text that would support both women and their backgrounds equally. Who knew there were so many text choices? Tom and I chose the secular text that read, in part:
“As beloveds and friends, we choose to walk life’s path together. We will appreciate our differences as a source of richness and build a life together as equal partners and supportive companions. We will be slow to anger and quick to forgive … We promise to honor our ancestors, families, and all living beings; treasure, enjoy, and continue the traditions we have inherited; create a home filled with love and peace, freedom and compassion…”
My mom gave her final blessing and we purchased the gift. It also came with a glass to break – IF they chose to do that – we weren’t taking anything for granted. Kyla and Sarah both loved the design and the text, and we worked together to get the language just right.
It got me thinking about other rituals that we, the parental units, might be assuming would be included. What other rituals will they incorporate? Will they use Hebrew blessings? What Christian rituals or symbols would they use? What will the wedding ceremony be like? Stay tuned …