Red Letter Day

Friday, June 13, 2008

Guest Post from Dave

Mike has been busy all day at his conference and I have had to spend Shabbat alone. No point in making a challah for one so I’ll take the stage on Mike’s blog and talk about some of the Jewish aspects of what we are doing and why they are important to me.

Jewish people have a long history of supporting equality and fairness. The National Council of Jewish Women was formed by Hannah Greenbaum Solomon (no relation as far as I know) in 1869. She was a key supporter of women’s suffrage. I feel a bit connected to women’s suffrage due to two coincidences growing up. First, I lived in Akron Ohio for a while, and besides being the rubber capital of the world, it’s also the spot where former slave Sojourner Truth made her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman”. I also lived in Stanton Hall in college, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton was Susan B. Anthony’s right hand woman in the women’s suffrage movement.

One hundred years later Jewish groups such as the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League funded and supported key groups bringing equality for all people regardless of race.
Therefore, it was no great surprise that as early as 1996, the Central Conference of American Rabbis supported equal marriage for all citizens. Reform Judaism is the largest branch of Judaism in the US.

When I and Mike receive our marriage certificate on June 17th, we will be fulfilling the full terms of our Ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract. We agreed, among the standard responsibilities to each other, to seek “any and all legal recognition”. June 17th will be a fulfillment of that tradition. Just like any blessing we receive, we must always acknowledge the source of blessings, G-d, and thus we plan on saying the shehechiyanu, As is tradition on Shabbat, a short d’var torah on the prayer and it’s connection to June 17th for us. I’ll examine each part of the prayer

“Blessed are You, Keeper our G-d, Sovereign of the universe”
Note I used a gender inclusive language. While it will be men and women that will give us a marriage license, there is no doubt in our minds that our faith is the source of blessings. As I am the child of Karen and Jack and Mike the child of Susie and Jim, we are both the children of our ancestors: Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. We carry their blessings and traditions with us daily.

“who has kept us alive,”

No matter whom you spend life with, the world’s a rough place. How incredibly scary it can be with peril at every turn. Not having the rights of marriage makes every event just a bit scarier. Will I be allowed to make a life and death decision for my loving companion, or will it be left to complete strangers? Will I be allowed to visit my spouse in the hospital should something terrible happen? After June 17th, we’ll have an equal chance as every other couple to navigate the ups and downs of life.

“ and sustained us”

Being alive is more than just dying. We are able to be members of our community and active contributors to the economy. My business has over 1,000 clients: people that rely on me for computer repair and support and I rely on them for income. And which software is critical to my job: the software Mike’s company writes. Spending my life with Mike has made me joyous beyond measure. While G-d is the source of all, G-d has empowered Mike to care and protect me. I feel safe and secure with Mike. Everyone deserves to feel that way about another person. Marriage allows us all to do that.

“and enabled us”
This is probably the most important part of the prayer. We didn’t just live our lives, but G-d enabled us to achieve this goal. We were given the tools necessary to reach this moment. We all made this happen. Equality has happened because of the relentless work of so many fair minded people.

“to reach this moment.”

And that’s where it ends. After all the media we’ve spoken with, the distance we’ve traveled, the incredible expenses incurred in making this trip….it all comes done to one moment. We’re reminded in this prayer that we live life from moment to moment. This will be our moment, as a couple. For a shortest period of time, we’ll have a vision of the world to come. All the craziness of the day will dissolve….

It will be Dave

It will be Mike.

And then it will be us.

Shabbat Shalom friends and family.