Today I found myself looking this stunning and familiar painting on a Chagall Calendar. I have seen the painting many times. But today, with the new moon of Shevat about to make its appearance I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Something about her gaze..is it uncertainty or is it focus? The groom, on the other hand, is very present and feels connected to his bride. For sure they are surrounded by music and sunshine.
This was a beautiful and intimate Interfaith wedding that took place in Manhattan. The couple exchanged vows and rings. It was touching to share the reading that they selected:
The Promise by Eileen Rafter
The sun danced on the snow with a sparkling smile;
As two lovers sat quietly alone for awhile.
Then he turned and said, with casual air
(though he blushed from his chin to the tips of his hair),
“I think I might like to get married to you.”
“Well then, she said, ‘there’s a thought.
But what if we can’t promise to be all that we ought?
Can you promise, say, that you won’t rage and shout,
If I’m late yet again, when we plan to go out,
For I know I can’t promise I’ll learn to ignore
Dirty socks or damp towels strewn all over the floor.
So if we can’t vow to be all that we should
I’m not sure what to do though the idea’s quite good.”
But he gently smiled and tilted his head
Till his lips met her ear and softly he said
“I promise to weave my dreams into your own,
that wherever you breathe will be my heart’s home.
I promise that, whether with rags or with gold I am blessed,
Your smile is the jewel I will treasure the best.
Do you think then, my love, we should marry- do you?”
“Yes, she said smiling, “I do.”
And with the breaking of the glass they were wed!
Recently I was in the Museum of Design in Copenhagen. This photo was part of a display in their garden cafe.
How exciting: someone asking another person “tell me about your dreams and I’ll tell you about mine.” How bold to create an invitation to talk about fear and worries…how brave it is to be vulnerable.
Wishing you a partner in your life that you can open up to…and that they too can open up to you.
There’s a beautiful story in The New York Times about Jewish and Muslim families spending time together to get to know each other. Fighting against both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia intimate dinners are shared to get to know each other. Candles are lit, children are blessed and stories are shared about maintaining a unique religious life in our diverse city.
PatchWorks Films have produced some beautiful movies that deal with Jewish and Interfaith Stories. These films provide tools for schools and synagogues and churches to explore Interfaith and intercultural complexities.
check them out at
I had the honor to officiate at an Interfaith Wedding, here in the city, on Saturday. The couple wrote their vows, and asked me to do a contemporary reading of the Seven blessings. I read part of the prayer in Hebrew and part of it in English. They were sensitive to many of the gusts not understanding Hebrew. We did the traditional blessing over the wine and the groom broke the glass.
My Christian colleague offered the blessing of the candles in memory of those who were with us only in spirit. He also introduced a reading as well as a introduction about both faiths.
There was a lot of joy in midtown as two kindred souls were united in a blessed marriage.
It was a beautiful Fall day and the bride wore white, the groom was in Indian garb and the restaurant was a glow. The mother’s lit candles, the father’s gave their blessings and the groom and bride circled around each other seven times. Prayers of joy, and love and hope were recited by the siblings of both families. The groom wore a garland and the bride carried roses. We read poems from the psalms and we read a Hindu poem of love:
You have become mine forever
Yes we have become partners.
I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, unite.
You are thought and I am sound.
In the Jewish Tradition From the Song of Songs, Shir Hashirim
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
The flowers appear on the earth, the time for singing has come..
Set me as a seal upon your heart and seal upon your arm…
My love, come away, I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.
I was offering a workshop at Huntington Jewish Center. We were exploring courage. What is it that stops us from going forward? What is it that propels us forward? We came up with many answers. The most common thread was: there is that moment in our lives where we can’t stay where we are. We have to respond and move out of stagnation. It doesn’t necessarily feel brave when this ‘event’ occurs. In retrospect, it was a life-changing moment. We ended our learning with this poem from Sheila Peltz Weinberg:
Dear God, God of our mothers and fathers.
Renew us this month and this year
Toward goodness and blessing
Toward the joyful
Toward liberation and challenge, as well as
Toward patience and consolation
Toward becoming ever more human beings
Let us become capable of supporting ourselves
Our families and friends,
Let us serve our community in dignity.
Toward life and peace
Toward observing our blindness
Toward struggling with our goals
Toward forgiving ourselves and each other
Your brought us near with an intension
You gave us the awareness of the cycles of the moon.
May we use our gift as an opportunity
To understand what you intend for us.
Thank you for inviting us to share your holiness and
This holy moment of the New Moon
is great and so is getting good reviews. The best though are the meetings, and conversations. I get to spend time with couples and listen to their plans and aspirations. I see the support and love that each is bringing to the marriage. My only question is “how can I help?”
These past few weeks I’ve had conversations with many people who are in flux, transition, or just trying to figure out their lives and what’s next. This morning I remembered this wonderful poem by the great Mary Oliver. I’d like to offer it to you:
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles
through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
ar moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.