How do Jews Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

February 14, 2013

valentine

Hey, it’s not our holiday.  It’s SAINT Valentine’s Day, and the way it became the Hallmark-and-florist fest it is today is a long and involved story.

That said, I am all in favor of a day that reminds us to tell our loved ones “I love you.”  Truth is, we should be doing that every day.

But  I see the pain Feb 14 gives some of my single friends, and the widows, and those whose marriages are suffering.  I wonder about the kindness of a day devoted to expressions of romantic love, a day that winds up excluding all but the already happy.

I celebrated the day by telling my honey I love her (like I do every day) and sending a donation to Shalom Bayit, an organization working against domestic violence in my home town. I’m going to send one to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the great organizations that are part of the fight for marriage equality.

Down with pain, up with love! I think that’s an idea we can all support.


Lag B’Omer and Marriage Equality

May 10, 2012
Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue skies and the sun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s Lag B’Omer, a brief moment of lightness during the intense count of the Omer from Passover to Shavuot.  Tonight there are bonfires, tomorrow tykes will get their first haircuts.

After the vote for the hideous Amendment One in North Carolina this week, I was braced for a glum Lag B’Omer.  I hate feeling like a second-class citizen, and it’s pretty clear that’s exactly what I and other LGBTQ folk are in the Tar Heel State.

Then the news came over the car radio that President Obama had finally spoken in favor of marriage equality.  I honestly never thought I’d see the day when a sitting American President would speak up for us, much less one in the midst of a campaign.  The news made me feel light-headed: I actually pulled off the road and sat for a bit, until I settled down a bit.  I’m happy, and surprised, and grateful.

As for the folks in NC:  I wish I could talk to them.  I wish I could say to the Christians of North Carolina who fought so hard to pass Amendment One, do you remember your forebears?  Many of your spiritual ancestors fled Europe because the lived in places where Baptists, or Methodists, or Catholics were not free to worship as they wished. They came to this country, and eventually set up a government where they carefully separated religion and state.  They understood that that meant that this country would never enshrine their religious beliefs in law, and they wanted it that way.  They did not want to risk ever again being a persecuted minority, nor did they want anyone else in that position for their religious beliefs.

I am a Reform Jew.  Reform Judaism affirms the sacredness of marriage between two individuals regardless of gender.  My sweetheart and I have a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) on our wall.  We are married in the eyes of God and our congregation and the Reform Movement.  Unfortunately our state and our federal government has chosen not to honor our marriage, because the religious majority in our country holds that homosexuality is a sin.  Reform Judaism is not the only religion that recognizes as sacred the union between two men or two women who vow to be responsible for one another for life:  the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalists, and the Alliance of Baptists also recognize same-sex marriage.

I am beginning to hope that I may see the day when this unfairness is no longer with us, when the intention of the founders of our government is honored.  I hope I will see the day when religion and state are truly separate.  In the meantime, I am glad that President Obama spoke up.

In the meantime, I will celebrate this moment of lightness in a long journey, this Lag B’Omer.


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