Conservative Rabbi Performed His First Gay Wedding

Conservative Rabbi Performed His First Gay Wedding

Nadiv Schorer and Ariel Meiri are a Jewish gay couple. They have been together for a very long time and finally decided to get married. What might come as a shock to others, is a groundbreaking scene to see. The couple got their wedding officiated by an orthodox rabbi. The rabbi, who stood with them under the canopy, has become one of the most iconic pictures in the LGBT community.

Orthodox rabbi officiate Jewish wedding

rabbi first gay wedding/ rabbi/ Rabbi Performed First Gay Wedding. Broke New Grounds
Image courtesy: The Forward

Avram Mlotek was the rabbi who officiated the wedding. The rabbi was affiliated with a progressive wing of Orthodox Judaism and it was the first time he performed a wedding for two people of the same sex.

He wrote on Facebook saying, “In many ways, it was like any other Simcha I’ve officiated: joyous, Jewish. What made it different was that they were two men who joined in a sacred, covenantal relationship.”

Moreover, Mlotek had the intention of performing a same-sex wedding since last year. However, arguing in a Jewish Telegraphic Agency opinion piece about facilitating a Jewish marriage for all kinds of families is a communal imperative.

Mlotek believes that a wedding day should be joyous for loving companions regardless of their sexual orientation. He also wrote, “If the couple is choosing to live Jewish lives, build a Jewish home and raise Jewish children, our traditional rabbinate must seize the opportunity to welcome and work with these families at their most precious life-cycle moments. If we don’t, we risk further alienation and falling into an abyss of religious irrelevance by denying these couples their rightful place of belonging.”

Jewish same-sex marriages

Nadiv and Ariel/ rabbi/Rabbi Performed First Gay Wedding. Broke New Grounds
Image courtesy: Zola

American Jewish Denominations permitted same-sex marriages. However, Mlotek’s decision placed him outside the Orthodox mainstream.  The Orthodox mainstream forbids same-sex marriages. Moreover, according to the analysts, this is one of the reasons why Orthodox Jews have aligned themselves with the Republican Party.

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is the school that ordained Avram Mlotek. The school was founded around two decades ago. The intention was to advance an Open Orthodox approach. This emerged as a response to that rightward shift. The school has dropped the Open Orthodox affiliation. However, rabbis still train there. Moreover, they still tend to look for ways to include women and others. All this while maintaining fidelity to the Jewish Laws, Halacha.

Moreover, the school expelled a gay student last year in a move that Mlotek said influenced his decision.

LGBTQ inclusion in orthodox communities

Mlotek kept that approach in mind. Many Orthodox rabbis have conducted same-sex weddings. However, they use the traditional wedding formula. Mlotek did not do that same. He did not use the traditional wedding formula to conduct this gay wedding. Instead, he devised another ceremony that focused on LGBTQ inclusion in Orthodox communities.

Mlotek posted the wedding ceremony as well as some comments about LGBTQ inclusion. There were many comments from people who said that the wedding was a departure from the traditional Jewish values. However, there were some that praised the rabbi. They said, “Orthodox Judaism too often fails to grapple with the human costs of halachic fidelity.”

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah trained another rabbi named Shmuly Yankelowitz. Shmuly said, “We should listen & learn from God fearing Yidden crying & tossing and turning as they struggle to get clarity because we are sisters/brothers and can always humbly learn from each other.” He also added, ” “But we must silence from our souls the homophobic forces who shed no tears and hold little empathy in their hearts.”

The same-sex couple wedding

Nadiv and Ariel/ rabbi/ Rabbi Performed First Gay Wedding. Broke New Grounds
Image courtesy: Zola

Nadi and Ariel got married in a very grand way. They even had their own website with all the details of their wedding.

They had a whole schedule planned for their grand day. The wedding ceremony was to be held in Woodbury, NY. The event started with a cocktail hour that started at around 11 am. Followed by Chatans’ Tisch and finally, the wedding ceremony called the Chuppah at 12:30 PM.

After the ceremony, the couple had planned a ‘Seudah’ (celebratory meal), followed by dancing in the Emerald Room. The couple even set a dress code for the guests.

The next day was a real celebration. The gay couple decided to have an after-party. The theme was casual but neat. The party was held at the Back Room in New York, and the guest required a password to enter the Back Room along with an ID proof. The password was shared on Facebook one week before the party.

The guests were told not to wear flip flops, real fur, team jerseys or baseball hats. However, they could wear fake fur, leather, suede and other kinds of hats were allowed. The fancier the better.

The setup was Jewish and extremely grand.

Next read: First Same-Sex Couple To Legally Marry In Northern Ireland

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