I know a rabbinate wedding is the easy choice for anyone living in Israel, but if we want to take back what’s ours, and stop these thugs from having a say in who we can or cannot love, there is only one way to show them that their reign of terror has come to an end. Emily Sarah Melzer and her personal wedding story.
My name is Emily and I was born and mostly raised in Israel. I met my Nate while working on my Bachelor’s degree in Los Angeles. We bonded over our shared interest in microbiology and spent most of our first date comparing Nate's Jewish American upbringing to my Israeli background, a topic which would come up quite a bit as time went by, often with much frustration on my part. Why wouldn't Israel let its people be whatever kind of Jews they wanted to be, like American Jews are free to do? So it was no surprise that even though most of my family and friends live in Israel, getting married there was not an option.
Emily and Nate on their wedding day
I always knew that if I were to get married, the person officiating the wedding would be of legal authority. When Nate and I decided to get married it was clear to us both that it would be a civil ceremony. I had no desire to participate in some sort of charade, where I get to be a glorified extra under an orthodox chuppah. In this charade I must cover up, even though in reality tank tops and sundresses are my go-to’s. In this charade, a man purchases me from my father, although in real life I would never be in a relationship that is anything but 100% equal, not to mention my dad isn’t really in the business of trading his children. And most importantly, I would have to listen as the orthodox rabbi converses with a god whose priorities and values are light years away from mine.
When we went to issue our marriage license at a California courthouse, the polite clerk couldn’t care less about the ratio of X to Y chromosomes standing in front of her. Obviously, she didn’t care what holidays we celebrated, or about the religious affiliation of Nate’s grandmother. The two giggly loving women holding hands in front of us in line were treated exactly the same, as were all of the other couples who showed up at the courthouse that day, excited to start a new chapter together. A couple of weeks later, a judge asked us to promise each other respect, support, commitment and friendship, thus covering all necessary content. I know that to people who live outside of Israel, what I am describing sounds perfectly normal and not a big deal, but the sad truth is that in Israel of 2015 this scene where a government official has no business interfering with your love life is still a dream.
In a hypothetical universe we probably could have gotten married through the rabbinate if we wanted. Except that even when I try really hard, I can’t think of one good reason for us to do that. Why should such an important day be held hostage by an institution that sickens me? And if we’re being honest, the way I choose to live my life would most likely sicken them just as much.
I know a rabbinate wedding is the easy choice for anyone living in Israel, but if we want to take back what’s ours, and stop these thugs from having a say in who we can or cannot love, there is only one way to show them that their reign of terror has come to an end. A new era of freedom of choice is right around the corner: No to the rabbinate! The right to marry whoever we want in whatever way we choose is a basic one, to which each and every man and woman is entitled.