Thursday, August 14, 2008
Warning: A series of post titles and subjects will likely follow over the next few days which may or may not include multiple quotes and/or references to "Fiddler on the Roof", "The Chosen" and/or "Yentel" (the latter of which I haven't seen but apparently is very jewishy so I thought I'd throw it in there just to be safe) and may include, but is not limited to, such Hebraic references as chuppahs, yamulkes, ketubahs, horas, and latkes. (OK, not latkes, but of all the things I listed, that one actually got me excited about posting.) For those of you who did not grow up in New Jersey, NYC, Long Island, LA and/or Boca Raton, might I suggest the following: http://www.amazon.com/Judaism-Dummies-Ted-Falcon/dp/0764552996 or http://www.yiddishdictionaryonline.com/
To catch you up, I just finished booking the Big Three of wedding vendors (DJ, florist, photographer, the powerful trifecta that is the foundation of any good wedding). [Patting myself on the back. Even though I shouldn't. I'm lying a bit...the photographer is not actually booked per se...but I do have a contract that I'm procrastinating on and swear I WILL put in the mail tomorrow.] Anyway, I decided that I deserved a wedding breather. Not total wedding lockdown, but more of a zen-like state intended to take me away from all that is wedding, so when I was forced to return to planning in earnest, I would be like a fresh lotus blossom, poised to calmly make nuptial decisions with ease. Needless to say, when my phone rang this morning while at work and I heard FMIL (Future Mother in Law) on the line telling me she was with our Cantor (the officiant who will marry us; for the non-jews out there: he's a guy who works in the temple but is not a Rabbi. And if you don't know who the Rabbi is, I just can't help you here. Email me and we'll have a talk. I'll cook you some matzoh ball soup and we'll talk about Madonna and Kabbalah and dance to "Like A Prayer").
So it's 8:30 in the morning and the first thing she says is "You have to talk to the Cantor. You need to talk to him now. He's right here in the office and you have to talk to him. Oh wait...what? Oh ok. Ok, forget it, he'll just talk to me and I'll talk to you."
Hmmm. That seems efficient. "Ok, so first, he says he needs a piano. Or a synthesizer, like a keyboard."
To which I dumbly respond, "Why, does he play the keyboard?" And FMIL says, "NO! It's for the chanting!!"
THE CHANTING? "Uhm, but I'm not really sure we're having...chanting. You know that we're not really, like uhm, religious?" To which FMIL replied breezily, "Well that's fine, but you know that it will be lovely with the accompaniment of the keyboard so for the singing he does, it will be lovely." (Translation: I'm ignoring you and your decision to decline synthesized music and Hebraic chants.)
And then I hear this elderly voice in the background yelling "Tell her she needs two male witnesses who can write their Hebrew names on the ketubah. They can't be blood relatives! TWO MALE WITNESSES!!"
I am now a wilting lotus blossom having heart palpitations. You see, I don't believe that witnesses should only be male. The idea that it should be male offends me; in the days of yore, or old, or BCE or whatever, a woman couldn't be deemed to be a witness since she didn't have the same standing as a man. Sorry, but that doesn't fly with me. And I'm certainly not going to perpetuate the idea of a woman's diminished status by permitting it to happen with my marriage. F*** that. I'm not into the glass ceiling, so I'm not about to bow down to a parchment ceiling either. But how I am supposed to have a dialogue on the new Jewish feminism while on the phone with my future mother in law who is sitting in a dentist's office and yelling my comments to the Cantor who is supposed to marry us, but who I have never met and who may very well feel that a marriage is only valid if two male non-blood witnesses are there to watch? So instead I say "I can't hear you, we have a bad connection. Let's talk later" and immediately hang up.
I call up Mr. F to tell him what transpired, feeling a little apprehensive about what he'll say when pitted against his mother's religious wishes. I tell him about the Cantor and the chanting and then the male witnesses required for the ketubah. And he's silent for a moment and says "F*** that. They'll be no chanting. And we'll have female witnesses. I'll take care of it."
For today, I love Mr. F.