We started this year with a wedding on New Year's, and fittingly ended it on Christmas Day. This was the first interfaith wedding I officiated, where all food was catered strictly kosher. It was held at Selina's parents' home in Colleyville, Texas. Selina’s family members are Isma’ilis. While it is impossible to truly reduce a religious tradition to a few words, the Isma’ilis emphasize social justice, pluralism, and human reason within the framework of the mystical tradition of Islam. Elliot's family are Orthodox Jews (hence the kosher meal). The beautiful ceremony, preceded by the lighting of Chanukah candles, wove together elements from both their traditions. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:
How do you make your dreams come true? Is that not what this day is all about? I believe that this successful young couple may provide some insight into how we can make our dreams come true with three aspects of their story.
Selina and Elliot both grew up in families that treasure learning. It is not surprising therefore that they are first and foremost passionate learners. Learning new things is something that they each relish. They each, in fact, talk about how much they have learned from each other, and how this learning has bettered them as individuals and as a couple. It is this willingness, nay hunger to learn that has made them so successful, that has allowed them to thrive, and that has enabled them to fulfill their dreams.
Now learning is not enough. It is, after all, in a sense, just a tool. One must be passionate about the truth, as learning's guide, its lighthouse, if you will, for learning to truly matter. The truth is not always convenient, nor is it always pretty. That said, dreams cannot come true, if one avoids it. Selina and Elliot constantly strive for truth, and do not flinch from it, wherever it may lead them.
There is however one more critical component, empathy, which Selina and Elliot have in spades. You can scarcely imagine two more empathetic individuals. They truly put themselves into others’ shoes. They truly ask what others’ needs are before theirs’. This is why they have done a triathlon for charity. This is why Selina encouraged Elliot to pursue coaching kids. This is why this is such a giving couple. They understand that fulfilling one's dreams lies more in the thou, than in the I; more in thinking about others, than in thinking about ourselves.
Selina and Elliot, thank you for this important lesson. May we all heed your example, and may your dreams and ours all come true.