Dear Rabbi Danny,
I’m a 32 year old Jewish man who is in a long term, loving relationship with another Jewish man.
We met on JDate five years ago and have been happy in love ever since.
Before I met my boyfriend I was deep in the closet for one major reason: I come from a religious family and I am devout traditional Jew. I keep Shabbat, go to synagogue every week, follow Kashrut and attend a weekly Torah study group.
It took me a long time to accept my homosexuality because it just didn’t seem plausible to me to be both gay and an observant Jew. Although religion is less of a priority for my boyfriend, we eventually want to get married in a traditional Jewish ceremony. I have two questions: Can gay Jews have meaningful Jewish marriage ceremonies and is it possible to be gay and build a traditional Jewish home and family?
It is great to receive a letter from a JDate success story, I am glad to hear that you have met the person that you want to marry. There are differing views about homosexuality amongst the different denominations in the Jewish community, but you should know that you will find yourself and your partner welcomed by both the Reform and Liberal communities in Britain.
In answer to your first question, you can most definitely have a Jewish marriage ceremony, with all of the elements which are part of a traditional Jewish wedding (chuppah – the wedding canopy, sheva brachot – the seven blessings, the exchange of rings, etc.). The only necessary difference will be in the language, referring to chatan vechatan (groom and groom) or other appropriate terminology used by the officiating Rabbi.
This ceremony can take place in a synagogue, or in an appropriate venue of your choosing. To all of your guests it will look like every other Jewish wedding which they have attended, including the elements of both Kidushin (also known as Erusin) and Nissuin. There will be a few choices for you to make (as there are in all weddings) but these will be matters for you and your officiating Rabbi to discuss. You will also be able to find Ketubot (the Jewish marriage contract) written for two Jewish men getting married.
After your marriage you will certainly be able to build a traditional Jewish home and family. When one thinks about a Jewish home, it is built on the foundations of a loving relationship between two people, and then it is about the values which you instill into the home, and the way that you and your partner live your life together, and teach your children. These values are not exclusive to heterosexual or homosexual couples, they are Jewish values. As with all relationships, it will be about you and your partner deciding together how to build your home. I wish you and your family much joy and celebration as you prepare to take your relationship to the next level.
All the best,