Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our Ketubah Text

A Ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract. Considered a legal document, it is signed by the couple and two witnesses on the day of the wedding. While the structure of this text is based on the traditional formats, we worked diligently to craft a text that would reflect our intentions for our marriage. We would love to hear what you think!

On the 1st day of the week, the 1st day of the month of Tammuz, in the year five thousand seven hundred and seventy-one since “the creation of the world,” corresponding to the 3rd day of the month of July in the year two thousand eleven here in Massachusetts, the groom Matthew Lowe, son of Jeffrey and Fonda, and the bride Mimi Arbeit, daughter of Susan and Robert, entered into the Holy Covenant of Marriage. The bride Mimi said to the groom Matthew: "With this ring you are consecrated unto me as my partner according to the spirit of Miriam and the tradition of Moses and the Jewish people. I shall treasure you, nourish you, support you and respect you as Jewish adults have devoted themselves to their partners with love and integrity." The groom Matthew said to the bride Mimi: "With this ring you are consecrated unto me as my partner according to the spirit of Miriam and the tradition of Moses and the Jewish people. I shall treasure you, nourish you, support you and respect you as Jewish adults have devoted themselves to their partners with love and integrity."

They also agree to the following: Our partnership is invested with the vision of radical feminism, which guides us in queering structures of power and seeking justice for ourselves and others. We promise to try to be ever open to one another and to cherish each other's uniqueness: to comfort and challenge each other through life's sorrow and joy; to share our intuition and insight with one another; and, above all, to do everything within our power to permit each of us to become the persons we are yet to be. We pledge to establish a home that welcomes the spiritual potential in all life: a home wherein the flow of the seasons and the passages of time are celebrated through symbols of our values and our heritage; a home filled with reverence for learning, loving and giving. Through our partnership we will strive towards wholeness for ourselves, for one another, and for the world. And if a time comes that either of us chooses to end this marriage, we each pledge to act with integrity, respect, and compassion towards each other in civic and religious domains.

The groom and bride also accepted full legal responsibility for the obligations herein taken on, as well as for the various properties entering the marriage from their respective homes and families, and agreed that the obligations in this Ketubah may be satisfied even from movable property. Both the groom and the bride formally acquire these obligations to the other, with an instrument fit for such purposes. All is valid and binding.

Monday, July 4, 2011

To my support network

I wrote this piece to share with several wedding guests who came to spend time with me in the hour before the ceremony, in a tradition called a tisch, which means "table."

I have been experiencing this wedding in three layers, three perspectives, three ways in which I understand and express my own story. The initial layer is the personal relationship I share with Matt. Hopefully, you will hear the meanings of this deep layer as you witness our marriage ceremony, right after this tisch. The second layer of my experience of this wedding is political. Throughout the last month, I have expressed many of these thoughts and feelings on my blog, so I will not repeat them here.

The third layer of my experience of this wedding was actually the key motivating factor in my decision to have a wedding and reception to celebrate the marriage that Matt and I are undertaking. This layer is what I would like to focus on now, because it is about you. It is you. To my family, my friends, my loved ones, and those who love Matt and are here because they are open to loving me, too… welcome. Thank you for being with us today and throughout our lives. We have put all this thought and energy into preparing for today because we wanted to share it with you. It was because of you that I wanted to have this wedding today.

I once had an assigned reading for a gender studies class in college that addressed the Wedding Industrial Complex and analyzed many problematic and patriarchal aspects of modern weddings. One part of the critique that really struck me was he role of the guests in the wedding process. The couple and their parents plan the wedding, then everyone rushes in to celebrate for a day or for the weekend, and then the couple is left alone. Sealed off and isolated as they begin their marriage. Where the struggles happen, where the hard stuff comes up.

I don’t want to do it that way. First of all, we haven’t done it that way so far. We have been so blessed to have the effusive love and collaboration of each other and our parents in planning this wedding, but it didn’t stop there. Our best friends, our new friends, our parents friends, our cousins, they all helped us in planning this wedding. And each offer of help, each volunteering to take on a task, meant so much to be. Because not only was it extremely helpful in terms of getting this thing to happen, but it also, to me, implied a willingness and perhaps eagerness to help us in the times that will follow this wedding, whatever those times might entail.

We need you. I need you.

Our relationship cannot thrive in isolation. We need your support, in times of struggle and in times of joy, to help us thrive and reach our potential as a couple. I want to take this opportunity to ask you for this support, and for your patience, compassion, and wisdom as we navigate the joint and individual challenges ahead of us and cope with what that means for our relationship with each other and for our relationships with each of you.

And in addition to your support, I want to offer you mine. In the theme of approaching my wedding day as a personal Yom Kippur, I will start with an apology. I am sorry for all the times I have hurt or offended you or others that you care about. I have been distracted, I have been careless, too fast to speak, too soon to leave, and I have been selfish. Please forgive me. Know on this day, as I renew my dedication to living a life in which my words, actions and relationships reflect my values and passions, I am committing to you as well as committing to Matt. I want to be there for you, and I will be renewed because of this day and because of the strength I gain from my relationship with Matt. Please know that as we solidify our relationship to each other, as we invite you here to celebrate our commitment and rejoice with us, we hope that you will find joy and comfort in welcoming us into your lives, as well. As I set many important intentions today, I take this moment to set the intention to be your friend, to deepen our relationship, and to support you with love and caring. And, I will need your love and care to nourish me as Matt and I pursue a partnership thriving with health, happiness, and the pursuit of justice.