A few months ago, Neveh Shalom Rabbi Daniel Isaak announced plans for a May 17 collective wedding ceremony, noting that many Jewish married couples were married in civil ceremonies here or in the former Soviet Union. In announcing plans for the ceremony, he wrote, “In some cases one of the couple converted to Judaism since the original wedding. Some may be same sex couples who were denied a Jewish ceremony.”
“Marriage is the consummate event in Jewish life,” says Rabbi Isaak. “Judaism anticipates that we will live our adult lives in partnership. Marriage, more so than any other life-cycle event, creates the link in the chain of Jewish tradition and continuity. The ceremony celebrates our commitment to fidelity from the time of Adam and Eve, blessing the celebrants with joy and gladness, pleasure, song, delight, laughter, love and harmony, peace and companionship.”
While six couples are enthusiastically planning to participate in this “group ceremony,” one couple decided not to wait.
After 36 years together, Jane Rosevelt and Joni Cady were legally wed on Jan. 4 in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Isaak in their Lake Oswego home. Jane and Joni say they originally thought of participating in the collective wedding ceremony, but decided they didn’t want to wait until May. Their wedding cake read “It’s about time!”
“The first time we had a commitment ceremony, it was a bigger production and I was so nervous,” says Jane. “This time around, I was determined to be happy and relaxed, and it was just wonderful. This was perfect, and it was legal, and it feels really good. … I’m very proud to say ‘This is my wife, we’re married, we’re legitimate and equal to everyone else.’ ”
The couple had had a commitment ceremony in Los Angeles 25 years ago, but say this felt different. Standing under the chuppah, Rabbi Isaak read the ketubah from their commitment ceremony, and Jane and Joni shared newly written vows to each other.
In May six more couples will enjoy those rituals.
Rabbi Isaak says this will be the first time Neveh Shalom has offered this opportunity “for those who never had a traditional Jewish wedding to do so, complete with ketubah, betrothal and marriage blessings, rings and smashing of a glass.
“In four of the six couples, one or both partners converted to Judaism after marriage,” he explains. “Two of the couples celebrated Jewish weddings, but are using this opportunity to renew their commitment to each other, one in celebration of their 50th anniversary.”