Meet Ori and Alona – two women who cannot get married to each other in Israel because same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Israel. They took part in a group wedding ceremony this week in NYC, as a political action calling for marriage equality in Israel.
On December 3, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Temple Emanu-El in New York City threw Ori and Alona the wedding of their dreams and at the same time made the political statement that there is more than one way to be Jewish and all citizens must legally be able to get married in their homeland. While Israel often boasts of its tolerance of the LGBT community, many basic rights are still denied its members. The ultra-Orthodox monopoly over personal status in Israel must end.
Ori and Alona were both born in Israel. They met at their best friends’ wedding – Ori sang a song at the Chuppah and Alona stopped short. They ate and danced together, exchanged phone numbers…and the rest is history. Ori is currently the head of the alumni organization for Shutfuyot which runs leadership building programs for underprivileged youth, and Alona is a graduate student in the Gender Studies department of Tel Aviv University and works in online advertising. They are both very active in the LGBTQ community in Israel and volunteer with LGBTQ youth.
Ori and Alona enjoy bringing Judaism into their lives and identify with the values of Reform Judaism – values of equality and respect for all people.
More than 1500 people joined together at Temple Emanuel on Sunday, December 3 for Three Weddings and a Statement, an event to celebrate the love of three Israeli couples denied the right to marry in their own way in their own country. One was denied for being a same sex union, one for being a reform convert, and another for having the conviction to say no to the ultra-Orthodox monopoly on marriage in Israel.
The couples’ vows express the importance and meaning of this event more eloquently than we can.
Ori Berwald Shaer said: “I know that in 40 or 50 years, we will tell our grandkids that back in our day, it wasn’t so easy to be us. How we had to get on a plane and come here to be ourselves. But why? I have no idea. I love you and I love tradition and I refuse to choose between the two.”