Nov 28th, 2016
Remember when we were kids and they told us that if a boy puts a ring on your finger with witnesses around, and says, "Behold you are sanctified unto me..." ... that that would be all you need to get married??
This is the story of the wedding we chose for ourselves - an independent wedding - it being our right and responsibility to establish our life together in an independent way.
We are Galit and Elad. We are both in the second chapter of our lives, and together we have six children - Elad has three, and I have three.
We met more than five years ago, just when we were looking for our soulmates, and within a year Elad proposed marriage to me. After my first marriage/divorce experience, I wasn't quick to say, "I do," but on the other hand it was clear to me that this was the man I wanted to live my life with, and I said, "yes!" It was a joyous occasion with our children and dear ones.
We started to plan our special day: whether the wedding would be in Israel or abroad, whether we wanted a big party or a wedding by the sea with just us and our six children. One thing was clear to us - this time, we wouldn't be getting married via the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. We would do it our way, in an egalitarian way. Without a ketuba (religious marriage contract), and without the rabbinic establishment's restrictions.
My first experience with marriage/divorce had left me with a bitter taste. The wedding canopy under which my first husband acquired me with a ketuba, putting my freedom in his hands? I paid a great deal to get my freedom back. Anybody looking for equality and democracy won't find these within the Rabbinate's walls.
Ultimately, we decided to get married in Israel at a beautiful event hall in the winter air with our children, our families, and our close friends.
We put it all together within three months - the photographer, the DJ, the food, the wedding dress... the whole package. It was really fun, other than one experience, which really grated on me: a few days before the wedding, I wanted to immerse in a mikvah (ritual bath), and not because a rabbi had told me to, just for myself, out of my own faith. The bath attendant refused to let me in, telling me that I was a divorcee, that I hadn't gone through the Rabbinate... in short, I was a second class bride. A good friend of mine had to turn to the attendant and ask her to let me immerse. (got it?!)
Finally, she agreed, but under restrictive conditions: without any celebration, without too many women around, and... the worst part was that she didn't congratulate me. She wasn't allowed to. I hadn't gone through the proper channels. Eventually, I immersed, and the person who blessed me appropriately was my friend. Unreal, huh?
Going back to our awesome wedding ceremony: we invited a dear friend to run the ceremony, made our commitments to one another, sanctified one another, and broke the glass together, saying, "may we find the strength to turn brokenness into beautiful creation," instead of saying, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem..." To us, this represented our opening the door to the creation of our joint, egalitarian future.
So before you get to the steps of the Rabbinate, think whether you are choosing the path of coercion, or your own path.
May we all live lives of partnership, equality, and love!