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Friday, June 29, 2007

Spirituality Oy, cont.

Spirituality Oy! cont.

The story of my relationship with my partner’s synagogue and me has a long history.

We have the early relationship where I tried to fit in to please my new lover and her people. I followed the prayer book- (bencher?), attempting to say the prayers and sit and stand at the right time, and sing with the choir- they don’t tell you in the prayer book how many verses to sing or how many times to sing the refrain. I’m not sure the congregation even knows, it seems to depend on the mood of the choir director (I’ve always had a slight crush on her- digression) I felt slightly nervous, not sure whether I stuck out as not belonging, but I don’t really think so, but you never know. The whole style of the service seemed similar to a Catholic mass but much, much longer with a lot more socializing before and after and even during as people wandered outside to take a break and talk. Good byes took forever!

Then we got comfortable as lovers do. Sue became the co-director of the monthly Friday night dinners before services and I would join her and even help set up. I got to know some of the people, we made friends. I invited my Catholic friends and relatives to the dinners when they were in distress. I would even come for dinner sometimes and skip the service because those services were so long and I had my other meeting that night. The rabbi seemed so nice and welcoming. After the dinner there were prayers and singing (benching.) I all felt very welcoming and comfortable. I felt happy there. I ran into people I knew from my work life. Then, suddenly, Sue was no longer in charge of the monthly dinners. She was not told, she was not fired. The shul just started planning a later dinner and someone else was planning them without her input. She had finally found a volunteer job she enjoyed and she was out without a thankyou or notice. I thought this was strange and cruel. (I had worked for two organizations as a professional volunteer director and I know about these things.)

9/11 happened. The world in NYC became an unsafe and scary place. My cousin’s wife lost her life in tower two. We were looking for refuge wherever we could find it. Sue and I went to a special service at CBST. The rabbi was especially comforting and assuring, yet strong. It felt like a safe space. I thought again, should I convert. We were already celebrating all the Jewish holidays and none of the Christian ones and we were both satisfied and happy with that.

Several months later over lunch at Neiman Marcus, Sue proposed. I said yes. We began to plan for our wedding. I wanted to elope to Canada. Sue wanted a traditional Jewish wedding. We approached the rabbi-actually we didn’t approached the rabbi, we talked to friends who told us that the rabbi would not marry a Jew and a non-Jew (the rabbi’s language.) WHAT? (my language.) The largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender synagogue in the world was rejecting ME! (to be continued)

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