I was born into a Catholic family and given a Catholic education, but for as long as I can remember, Judaism has always fascinated me. There was just something so familiar about it. Whenever I attended the b’nai mitzvah and weddings of my Jewish friends, I felt a strong connection to their traditions – as if I belonged. My ancestors are from Portugal, Spain, and Italy, and sometimes I wonder whether they were forced to convert during the Inquisition. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I feel Jewish in my heart and soul.
In adulthood – many years after my divorce, as my kids...Read More
How did your parents meet?
As a religious school teacher at a Reform Jewish synagogue, each year I ask my sixth-grade students to think about their parents, or any two people they know who are happily married. How did those people become a couple?
Over the years, I've heard wonderful stories about blind dates and pool parties, about fender-benders that led to dinner and people who were expected fall for one person and ended up with someone entirely different. But my favorite story came from a boy whose parents – I'll call them Jackie and Scott – met while they were each...Read More
I was not at my son's official wedding. Ariel and his wife got married in Cyprus. They made this choice not because of the country's wonderful sights and romantic scenery, but because they wanted to be able to marry outside of the framework of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.
The Chief Rabbinate holds a monopoly on all Jewish marriages in Israel. There is no civil marriage, which leaves an Orthodox marriage as the only option for Jewish couples in Israel. This means that the ceremony is often performed by a rabbi who does not know the couple personally. It means stringent...Read More
We got married on a Wednesday. August 14, 2013: the ninth anniversary of the day on which we stood under a chuppah to sign our ketubah, (Jewish contract of marriage) exchange rings, sanctify our relationship, and hear the Sheva Brachot, the seven Jewish wedding blessings. We'd been together for more than fifteen years. Married – in the eyes of God and our Jewish community, if not in the eyes of the law of the United States of America – for nine years.
And so, on a beautiful summer afternoon in Brooklyn, I walked hand in hand with my partner along a path in Prospect Park. Our guests...Read More
Nathan Rifzis and Joanna Duretz were complete strangers when they traveled to Israel together in May 2012, but by the end of their 10-day trip, they were well on their way to falling in love. These days, the two are planning their upcoming wedding – and fondly remembering the trip that brought them together. Nathan, a native of Milwaukee, and Joanna, originally from Coral Springs, FL, were traveling to the Holy Land with URJ Kesher, the Reform Jewish trip provider for Taglit-Birthright Israel, which provides free group trips to Israel for young Jews ages 18-26. Here, Nathan and Joanna...Read More
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