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Blessing of Choosing: a radical alternative to Erusin in a Jewish wedding

My husband, Yotam Schachter, and I got creative with the first ritual blessing of our wedding.


Why?


The traditional Jewish liturgy for this ritual moment translates as follows:


Blessed are You Adonai our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us by Your commandments and commanded us concerning [forbidden] intimate relationships. You have forbidden to us those women who are [only] betrothed with erusin, but permitted to us those women who are married to us by Huppah and Kiddushin. We praise You, Adonai, that sanctifies the people Israel through huppah and kiddushin.


This blessing poses multiple problems for egalitarian-minded folks. First of all, it is written in the voice of a heterosexual man only, and refers only to heterosexual relationships. Second, it focuses on the fact that a woman who is betrothed to a man is forbidden sexually to other men – but makes no counterpoint about a commitment to monogamy from the man. Third, for those of us in ethically non-monogamous marriages, this blessing sets the woman up to break the sanctification of the marriage.


To be in integrity under our chuppah, my husband and I walked outside the legal framework of Judaism, and created a blessing based on the poetic framework of Judaism. We drew from the blessing for studying Torah (Jewish sacred text), which praises God for choosing the Jewish people as recipients of Torah. The blessing also talks about children, which worked well for us as we intended to become parents. Instead of focusing on heteronormative sexual exclusivity of the woman's body, our blessing sanctifies our marriage as a primary source of Torah in each of our lives. This resonated well with our ketubah text, as well.


 

Birkat Bechira: A Blessing of Choosing

For two Jews, choosing each other as life-partners


Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Worlds, Who creates fruit of the vine.


And like that fruit, O Holy One, please make the words of Your Torah sweet in my mouth, and the words of my beloved sweet in my ear. May we, and our children, and the children of our children, and the many children of Israel, all become intimate with You, and immerse ourselves in your Torah with pure intent. Blessed are You, HaShem, You mentor Your people in Torah.


Blessed are You, HaShem our God, Sovereign of the Worlds, Who has chosen me from among all souls and given to me (insert Hebrew name of partner).

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Worlds, Who sanctifies Your people in marriage.


Officiant: Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam borei p’ri hagofen.


Couple, together: V’ha’arev na Adonai Eloheinu et divrei toratecha b’phi, v’et divrei dodi/dodati b’oznai. V’nihiyeh anachnu v’tze’etzaeinu v’tze’etzaei tze’etzaeinu v’tze’etzaei kol amcha beit yisrael kulanu yodei sh’mecha v’lomdei toratecha lishma. Baruch ata Adonai ham’lamed Torah l’amo yisrael.

Couple, one at a time: Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam asher bachar bi mkol n’fashot v’natan li et _____________ (insert Hebrew name)



Officiant: Baruch ata Adonai ham’kadesh et amo yisrael al yidei chuppah v’kiddushin.

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